BCCI: Infrastructure subsidy has been a big boon

The BCCI's Emergent Working Committee approved the increase the one-off infrastructure subsidy to Rs. 70 crore (from Rs. 60 crore). There was a proposal to increase the infrastructure subsidy to Rs. 100 crore at the BCCI’s delayed AGM on November 9, 2015, but the proposal was shot down.

The infrastructure subsidy is givent to State associations that incur expenditure on building/redevelopment of stadiums.   -  B. Jothi Ramalingam

Controversy whipped around the timing of the increase in infrastructure subsidy announced/approved at the BCCI’s Emergent Working Committee (EWC), at the Cricket Centre recently here on September 30, has not gone down well with the full members of the near-nine decade old sports body. One of the outcomes of the EWC — that according to the full members was the shortest — was the one-off infrastructure subsidy being raised to Rs. 70 crore (from Rs. 60 crore).

In fact, there was a proposal to increase the infrastructure subsidy to Rs. 100 crore at the BCCI’s delayed AGM on November 9, 2015; but the proposal was shot down and the members had to settle for Rs. 60 crore.

The full members who have acquired land and invited bids for the construction of a new stadium were naturally thrilled about the development, but the Supreme Court appointed Justice Lodha Committee shot off a missive to the BCCI saying: “It has come to the notice of this Committee that certain decisions have been taken at the ‘Emergent Working Committee’ meeting of the BCCI on 30th September 2016 to disburse large funds to the various member associations. You are aware that by way of this Committee’s direction dated 31.8.2016, no further decisions were to be taken regarding the future apart from routine matters. The disbursement of these amounts are not routine, and in any case, not emergent.”

Perhaps no one was prepared for an EWC on September 30; nonetheless the members were pleased that they would be taking home more money for the development of facilities and thereby the game itself. “It (infrastructure subsidy) has proved to be a big boon for the State associations. With the revenue from broadcasting rights increasing manifold, the BCCI has only deemed it fit to allocate more money to the State associations. The Lodha Committee should know that the BCCI has done some great work and assisted State associations to build and redevelop stadiums,” said a former BCCI office bearer whose association has built a modern stadium in the West Zone.

A starting infrastructure subsidy of Rs. 2 crore was seen as a paltry sum in 2000, but in a span of three years between 2005 and 2008, when Sharad Pawar was the BCCI president, the subsidy was increased to first Rs. 25 crore and then Rs. 50 crore. Clearly with more money earned from broadcasting rights (from Nimbus and Star India), the BCCI could afford to give substantial funds to State associations that had bought land in order to develop a cricket facility.

The subsidy was also raised to help associations that were to stage the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 matches. The Mumbai Cricket Association, Cricket Association of Bengal, Delhi Districts Cricket Association and Vidarbha Cricket Association were a handful of associations that incurred big expenditure on redevelopment or building new stadiums.

The BCCI has put in place norms for the State association to claim money on the subsidy account. The BCCI actually reimburses only 50 per cent of the expenditure incurred. The association has to submit audited statement of accounts and then only the BCCI parts with half the sum spent.

Almost all the full members of the BCCI have availed the subsidy and a rough estimate calculated by a BCCI official puts the total sum at around Rs. 1,800 crore disbursed as infrastructure subsidy. While some members have claimed the full money due to them, some have not been able to; an example is the Saurashtra Cricket Association, which has spent Rs. 80 crore for creating the venue at Khanderi on the Rajkot-Jamnagar Highway and hence has claimed only around Rs. 40 crore.

The Gujarat Cricket Association, Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association and Tripura Cricket Association which are in the process of redeveloping and building their own properties will benefit by the increase in subsidy. “This infrastructure subsidy has been there for 16 years now and the BCCI and its members have worked hard to create modern facilities. The Lodha Committee should not see the increase announced as inappropriate,” said a long time member of the BCCI.