When one thinks now of the Indian Premier League, it’s associated more with controversies surrounding it than the performance of the stars that grace the arena. So when the latest conflict arose between the new governing body of the IPL, the Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals, nothing seemed too unfamiliar but for the outcome which took the cricketing fraternity attached to the IPL by shock.
After months of deliberating between Chirayu Amin and board members, the board came to the conclusion that the two franchisees, Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals, would be expelled from the league because of ownership ambiguities.
In the months leading up to the IPL, it’s not clear whether the winners of the inaugural edition, the Rajasthan Royals, will take to the field, or whether we’ll see Preity Zinta run to embrace her players like she did on several occasions during the first three seasons or whether the newly formed team from Kochi will make as much of an impression on field as its made on the news channels, which raises the question whether these off field controversies will have any bearing on the viewership . Will the die-hard Indian IPL fan continue to support the sport -- or is he tired of the shenanigans?
“I’ll still be out with my flag, screaming in the stands. The IPL has been under the scanner since its emergence, more so now than ever, but I’ve been a fan since day one and issues such as these will not cause my excitement to drain away. The IPL, providing the ultimate bond between entertainment and sport, always works hand in hand with controversy. I probably have a very selective picture of the whole deal as my chosen team hasn’t been pulled up for much (yet!). I have a very pro-IPL stance, and I’m eagerly waiting for IPL 4 and a fresh set of contest, thrill and hullabaloo,” says Krutika Bopanna, a student at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and a fan of the Delhi Daredevils.
Aashika Sadh, a student from the Government Law College agrees with Bopanna’s sentiment. “For me, what matters more than Chirayu Amin and Lalit Modi are names like Saurav Ganguly, Ajit Agarkar, Ishant Sharma, Ricky Ponting and Brendon McCullum. These names put together with my favourite Bollywood star, Shahrukh Khan form the Kolkata Knight Riders, the reason for which I watch the Indian Premier League.”
Yusuf Kothari, a business development specialist at Directi, thinks that Amin’s team has the right concept but the execution is incorrect. He says, “It was much needed, these teams were probably flouting a lot of regulations and the time was right to set these things straight. It may be a big shock for the fans of Rajasthan and Kings XI, but the BCCI has no reason to ban teams if nothing was wrong.”
So the controversies surrounding the Indian Premier League seem to make no difference to the consumption pattern of cricket fans in the nation, but one thing advertisers wanting to associate themselves with the IPL should look out for is, India’s performance in the World Cup next year. The World Cup is scheduled to end in March, just a month before the IPL begins.
A good performance from the men in blue will definitely increase the interest and viewership of the IPL which will bring a bigger and brighter smile to the advertiser’s face.
“The administration of the game is (unfortunately) carried out by people with heavy political clout instead of former players who know exactly what is needed to boost interest in the sport and nurture young talent. However, the game itself does not get affected due to these controversies since the players are still out on the field giving it their all and that’s what the fans turn up in thousands to watch. The ownership patterns, shares in the franchisees, broadcast rights and the like are of very little interest to the average cricket-lover who is forever a devotee of the sport itself.”
“Entertainment value wise, it can go both ways. I’ve always believed in the IPL and controversies like these only increase interest, as now there’s a reason for me not only to wait for the IPL month, but follow it all year round! So whether it’s a hunt against Modi, governmental agencies subtly being assertive, questions surrounding the very existence of the divisive Kochi team, the situation of the players of the ruled out teams- all ultimately culminate into tremendous excitement that will show its final effect next April. I can’t wait!”
Akshay Bansal, entrepreneur, Diamant Exim
“It is obviously upsetting to see grown ups acting like kids in a playground, focusing on revenge and personal vendetta over the spirit of the game. But once the game begins, you tend to focus on the positive - a good game of cricket as opposed to the negatives. Controversy is a part of sport, it’s sad but it’s true, although a good spirited and a hard fought match invariably ensures that the people focus on the game rather than the off field shenanigans.”
Aashika Sadh, student, Government Law College
“We all know that any publicity is good publicity. However, a game like the IPL which was never publicity-starved did not gain much from this controversy and, on the contrary, will lose a lot on its entertainment value. Just imagine a Lalit Modi or a Chirayu Amin going to the Eden Gardens to play a game of their own with Vijay Mallya and Shilpa Shetty or Sharad Pawar! No, we do not get entertained by such games! We like reading about such things in the papers one day , criticise them and forget about them the next day!”
“The effect of these controversies is very short term. People have forgotten about the Pakistan match fixing controversy already. As far as I am concerned, there are controversies in every sport. Cricket is no exception. The point is to move on and support your team and enjoy the game. If one keeps thinking about these controversies, then the fun of watching the game dies. Instead, we should not let these affect us and at the end of the day, entertainment is what should matter.”