Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Decline of the IPL
The recent auctions of new teams and raising of salary caps marks the beginning of the end of the Indian Premier League. All the revenues imaginable are being squeezed from the jamboree: endorsements on every square inch of clothing; television commercials beamed not just between overs but between balls; and aggressive merchandising of team shirts. Despite this, all but two of the eight teams have suffered losses during the initial years of the IPL's existence.
Now, the Sahara group has bid 370 million dollars for the Pune franchise, and a consortium named Rendezvous World Sport 333 million dollars for Kochi. This means the two will pay the Board of Control for Cricket in India four or five times as much each year as the other franchisees. Nobody has been able to figure out how these businesses propose to turn a profit given the way IPL finances are split. You can read detailed analyses of the issue here and here.
The Sahara people, having made a fortune at the bottom of the pyramid, appear bent on squandering it at the top, having lost money on their airline, television company and, probably, luxury township projects. For those who bought franchises in the first round, this is probably the best time to sell and walk out with a handsome profit.
What irks me about the IPL is its lack of quality. Each team is composed of, maybe, three good foreign players and three good Indian ones; a couple of journeymen; and two or three guys who are just there to make up the numbers. This was exposed during the Champions League, when not a single IPL team reached the semi-finals despite having home advantage. With two more teams to contend with, local talent is going to be stretched even thinner. How long before the public realises that excitement is no substitute for excellence?