525 World Cup final tickets unsold: Three indicted in Mumbai Cricket Association probe

India won the World Cup after a long wait of 28 years in 2011 © Getty Images

By Derek Abraham

Oct 14, 2013

As many as 525 tickets to the 2011 ICC World Cup final between India and Sri Lanka played at the Wankhede Stadium were unsold. This and other irregularities left the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) poorer by Rs2.64 crore, the four-member inquiry committee appointed by the MCA to probe the fiasco has found.

The panel, comprising advocates Avinash Rana (chairperson), Deepak Thakre, Vivek Kantawala, and MCA general body member Ravi Mandrekar, submitted its report to the MCA after a 10-month probe. The 24-page document, a copy of which is with DNA, has indicted, among others, three senior MCA officials (one of whom still holds office).

Lalchand Rajput (then joint secretary of the MCA), Prof Ratnakar Shetty (then MCA treasurer, World Cup tournament director and now BCCI general manager for game development) and CS Naik (MCA chief executive since) have been found responsible of several irregularities ranging from “presenting incorrect accounts” to “printing duplicate tickets”.

The MCA goes to polls on October 18 and Rajput, the India ‘A’ coach, will contest for the post of joint secretary from the Cricket First group headed by Vijay Patil. Shetty, who recently got a five-year MCA ban overturned by the city civil court, cannot contest because he is on the BCCI payroll.

Contrary to earlier reports that said 405 tickets were unsold, the committee found that the actual figure was 525. “…a minimum of 525 tickets were unsold. Thus, the accounts submitted by honorary treasurer Prof Shetty cannot be relied upon. Similarly, it was the duty of CEO CS Naik to present a correct picture to the managing committee, but he has failed (to do so),” the committee said.

The break-up of the unsold tickets is as follows: 124 (Divecha Stand), 107 (MCA Pavilion), 37 (Garware Pavilion), 38 (Vijay Merchant Stand), 106 (North Stand) and 113 (Sunil Gavaskar Stand).

The loss incurred by MCA on account of the 525 unsold tickets is Rs83,34,000. The 1,067 tickets returned by Kyazoonga.com made the association poorer by Rs79,60,000. The association also suffered a loss of Rs70,20,000 because it printed 564 duplicate complimentary tickets. In addition to this, the committee said the MCA was in the red by Rs31,30,000 because of “unaccounted complimentary tickets”. In all, it suffered a whopping loss of Rs2,64,44,000.

The committee, which asked nine persons to appear before it, examined documents like print orders, summary of bills, statement of stadium capacity and statement of tickets sold. Only Shetty, LK Saraf (in charge of filing entertainment tax) and SR Halbe (in charge of sale and distribution of tickets) appeared before the committee. Rajput, Hemant Waingankar (joint secretary), Surendra Shevale and Pradeep Jhaveri (ticket sale and distribution), Jagdish Achrekar (reconciliation of tickets) and Naik did not. 

“Though Achrekar did not appear before the committee, he extended his cooperation. Rajput, Shevale, Jhaveri and Shetty filed their say. Waingankar was unwell and could not appear before the committee,” the committee report said.

The committee also accused CEO Naik and the persons responsible for the sale of tickets of “non-cooperation”. “The CEO did not cooperate with the committee… He was fully aware of the willful misuse of tickets, knew that the accounts presented were false, but remained silent because he himself benefited from the process. He took 45 tickets for himself and did not account for approximately 300 tickets handed over to him for distribution,” the committee observed. Both Naik and Rajput did not appear before the committee and the duo “must take all the responsibility of the misuse of tickets and complimentary tickets”.

Rajput, however, told DNA: “I have documents which prove that I have done nothing wrong. I will present my case before the MCA.”  CEO Naik said: “I do not want to comment on this. Let me first get a copy of this report.” Shetty and MCA president Ravi Savant did not respond to calls.

Waingankar, who was joint secretary at the time, is no more and therefore, the committee decided not to indict him.

The MCA was embroiled in a ticket fiasco during the 1987 World Cup too. Several officials were slapped with bans.

(The writer is Principal Correspondent at DNA, where the above article was first published)