The global tender for award Indian Premier League Media Rights (Television & Digital) for the cricket season 2018 and onwards was issued on the 19th of September 2016 after a detailed exercise by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (“BCCI”). The BCCI team invested a lot of time and money in framing of a tender with norms to ensure the highest levels of transparency.
It was expected that the new IPL season rights that were to be awarded would bring in huge revenue for the game of cricket and expectations amongst the BCCI, players and the cricket loving public ran high in the build up to the award of the IPL tender. This was more so in view of the fact that the IPL has been successfully piloted by the BCCI with support of all stakeholders to become one of the important events in the world cricketing calendar and has apart from providing a platform for showcasing domestic cricket talent resulted in the country being projected as an important sporting destination. In fact the IPL has resulted in the active building of Brand India and has brought laurels to the country. The IPL has also contributed substantially to the Indian Economy.
At the time the tender was floated and even till date there has been no complaint by any person that the tender was being issued in a non-transparent manner or that there appeared to be problems with any of its terms and conditions. The Potential Bidders who bought the Tender document had requested for certain Clarification, to which BCCI issued responses in 2 sets. Set 1 of the response to Clarification was issued on 14th October 2016 and Set 2 was issued on 20th October 2016. Based on the clarification issued, BCCI was subsequently to issue the Revised Media Rights Agreements (MRAs) along with the order relevant documents, which were not issued on account of the Hon’ble Supreme Court Order.
The BCCI has also appointed independent agencies to vet the legal, financial and technical details of the bids as well as the bidders. In the meanwhile the BCCI received a copy of the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in CA No.4235/2014 – BCCI v. Cricket Association of Bihar & Ors. dated 21.10.2016 (“Judgment”) at 650pm issuing the following directions in relation to tender processes being undertaken by the BCCI:
“(ii)(a) The Committee appointed by this Court is requested to appoint an independent auditor to scrutinise and audit the income received and expenditure incurred by BCCI; (b) The auditor shall also oversee the tendering process that will hereinafter be undertaken by BCCI, as well as the award of contracts above a threshold value to be fixed by the Committee; (c) The award of contracts by BCCI above the threshold fixed by the Committee shall be subject to the prior approval of the Committee; (d) The Committee shall be at liberty to obtain the advice of the auditors on the fairness of the tendering process which has been adopted by BCCI and in regard to all relevant facts and circumstances; (e) The Committee will determine whether a proposed contract above the threshold value should or should not be approved; and (f) The Committee will be at liberty to formulate the terms of engagement and reference to the auditors having regard to the above directions. BCCI shall defray the costs, charges and expenses of the auditors.”
In view of the aforesaid directions, as the Committee has been entrusted by the Hon’ble Supreme Court with the mandate of overseeing the tender process and in effect is now the custodian of the IPL tender process and has to take all actions to safeguard the IPL tender and the interest of BCCI and cricket in India, the BCCI wrote to the Committee on 21st October 2016 itself immediately on receipt of the Judgment, inter alia seeking guidance on (a) whether to defer the IPL tender or (b) to cancel the same and (c) requesting that the name of the auditor appointed be intimated to the BCCI to ensure that he could be associated with the IPL tender. Further, BCCI has sent all the IPL Media Rights Tender documents to the Committee along with the Revised MRAs and relevant documents, which are yet to be issued to the Potential Bidders.
Keeping in view the urgency in the matter, the BCCI has informed the Committee that the tender process being underway there were certain timelines that potential bidders were following. The BCCI also informed the Committee that a large number of potential bidders had travelled to the country from outside as bids had to be submitted in person.
The BCCI has accordingly sent requests on 23rd October 2016 and 24th October 2016 to the Committee on the aforesaid lines and requested for confirmation of receipt of emails and an urgent response to avoid any uncertainty in the IPL tender process to avoid any inconvenience to potential bidders. The BCCI also informed the Committee that any delay in responding and resultant uncertainty was hurting the commercial interest of the BCCI as it would lead to devaluation of the commercial rights that were to be awarded.
The BCCI has also received numerous queries from potential bidders explaining the hardship being faced by them due to the inability of the BCCI to address their queries and to furnish a clear roadmap on the way forward.
Today at 3:07 pm the BCCI has received a response from the Committee asking for certain further undertakings from the BCCI and sought further clarifications. These have accordingly been furnished to the Committee. The BCCI has received a response from the Committee a short while ago stating that it is in receipt of the communications from the BCCI and that it would issue directions after meeting amongst themselves.
The BCCI, apart from the above communication, has so far at the time of going to Press, not received any further directions from the Committee, which is now the custodian of the entire process and has been tasked with the duty to ensure that the tender process is undertaken in a professional and transparent manner with least inconvenience to all stakeholders. Once the BCCI receives a response from the Committee it shall bring the same to the notice of all stakeholders as the BCCI is currently not in a position to take any decision in the matter other than what the Committee recommends. In the absence of permission from the Committee to go ahead with the process scheduled for tomorrow, the BCCI is unable to do so.
The BCCI requests all bidders to appreciate that the events as have occurred were unforeseen and something over which the BCCI has no control. The potential bidders would appreciate that in the past the BCCI has responded to all queries to potential bidders in a prompt fashion and has conducted the entire process in a fair, transparent and professional manner. BCCI offers its sincere apology to all potential bidders and stakeholders who have put in efforts to put together bids by expending considerable time and resources, and have travelled from all across the country and the world to take part in this event.