IPL 2013: Gurunath Meiyappan’s arrest may spell doom for the Chennai Super Kings

Gurunath Meiyappan (L) has been arrested for his alleged role in the Indian Premier League 2013 spot-fixing controversy © IANS

By Nishad Pai Vaidya

Will Gurunath Meiyappan’s arrest on allegations of betting be the coup de grace for the Chennai Super Kings? India Cements, owners of the Chennai franchise continue to deny that he was an “owner’’ or a “Team Principal’’ as their team prepares to play the 2013 Indian Premier League (IPL) final. If Gurunath is proven to be a part of the franchise or is in fact an “owner’’, the franchise can be terminated according to the provisions of the Franchise Agreement.

According to Clause 11.3 (c) of the Franchise Agreement, a franchise can be terminated with immediate effect if: the Franchisee, any Franchisee Group Company and/or any Owner acts in any way which has a material adverse effect upon the reputation or standing of the League, BCCI-IPL, BCCI, the Franchisee, the Team (or any other team in the League) and/or the game of cricket.

Gurunath has been seen near the Chennai dugout for years and his association with them was quite evident. His Twitter bio read that he was a “Team Principal” — a post that entails tremendous responsibilities towards the franchise. He even had certain accredited passes for the IPL in the capacity of the ‘’owner’’.  But, India Cements’ statement suggests otherwise and he also changed his Twitter bio. Thus, until such time where his exact position is determined, Chennai’s fate hangs in the balance.

Chennai suggest that Gurunath was there in “honorary” capacity and had to position as such. Even if we buy that, he was indeed a part of the “franchise”. And the clause in question says that if the “Franchise” acts in any way that is adverse to the League’s reputation, then it can be terminated. Here is someone, who is very close to the top management and has been in and around the team for years.

It is difficult to sweep the whole scenario under the carpet by calling him a “honorary” member. Betting is a serious offence in India and it has been listed as an offence under the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the IPL’s anti-corruption. The important clauses in that regard read as follows, (source: http://www.iplt20.com/about/2013/anti-corruption-policy/81/offences-under-the-anti-corruption-code)

“2.2.1 Placing, accepting, laying or otherwise entering into any Bet with any other party (whether individual, company or otherwise) in relation to the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of any Match or Event.

“2.2.2 Soliciting, inducing, enticing, instructing, persuading, encouraging, facilitating or authorising any other party to enter into a Bet for the direct or indirect benefit of the Participant in relation to the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of any Match or Event.

“2.2.3 Ensuring the occurrence of a particular incident in a Match or Event, which occurrence is to the Participant’s knowledge the subject of a Bet and for which he/she expects to receive or has received any Reward.

“2.3 Misuse of Inside Information:

“2.3.1 Using, for Betting purposes, any Inside Information.”

If Gurunath did indulge in betting, he has violated these clauses. It is even more serious because he would have had inside information being omnipresent in the dugout all these years.

India Cements may have underestimated the power of the social media. In the hours before their supposed statement, hundreds of screenshots of Gurunath’s Twitter profile would have been taken to prove that he was in fact the “Team Principal.” By making the alteration, they are only facilitating an apparent and a laughable cover-up.

Through all that, the creator of the IPL, Lalit Modi, has maintained that the Chennai franchise should be terminated. He told CNN-IBN, “If an owner of an IPL team is engaged in betting, the contract clearly states that there is a suo motu right to cancel the agreement of the team and that should be done right away [sic].” If anything has to happen in this regard, it may take time as there would a legal battle to determine Gurunath’s status. That unlikely to happen before the IPL 2013 final.

In the eye of the storm, N Srinivasan remains adamant and has said that he wouldn’t resign as the President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). It is shocking that he refuses to budge with the controversy at his doorstep. For a long time there have been murmurs of a conflict of interest as he is also the owner of the Chennai Super Kings.

Things are more serious now as one of his own with his son-in-law has been arrested on allegations of betting. Irrespective of whether Gurunath is guilty or not, Srinivasan’s persistence can be a huge embarrassment to the cricketing fraternity of India.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with cricketcountry.com and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)

Click here for the updates of IPL 2013 spot-fixing controversy 

Read more stories on IPL 2013 spot-fixing controversy