The latest issue of dissent between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) is the PR agency that was hired to refurbish board’s image after the spot-fixing scandal in 2013.
The BCCI officials now feel that the agency is working against the board in an attempt to please the CoA.
“‘Theatre of the Absurd.’ That is the only way to describe it,” a senior BCCI official who was unwilling to be named told CricketNext. “The BCCI is paying for the propagation of stories and interviews against the BCCI, its members and its office bearers. The CoA unilaterally decided upon continuing with the services of this firm for public relations of the BCCI but they only push stories that show the BCCI or its office bearers in poor light. This is a pattern that only peaks near a date of hearing in the Hon’ble Supreme Court.”
“The representative of this company travels for court hearings while the office bearers are barred from travelling or even engaging lawyers which is essentially a right guaranteed by our Constitution. So, the BCCI cannot pay for its lawyers to put forth its case before the Hon’ble Supreme Court but the BCCI must pay to propagate stories that may create negative public opinion before a date of hearing,” said the official.
The contract between BCCI and agency Adfactors stated that the agency was to build and enhance the way public viewed the image of BCCI. However, board officials argue that the Rs 12,65,000 monthly retainer paid to the company is unnecessary as the BCCI has an in-house media cell.
The official said, “The BCCI has its own media department and issues media releases on any matter that requires to be in the public domain,” the official said. “Are we paying them to discredit our own organisation? To engage an agency for holding press conferences and interviews of administrators does seem like a waste of money when the organisation has its own department for this.”
The agreement was signed in 2016 by then secretary Ajay Shirke and the new one extending till 21 August 2018 was signed by Amitabh Choudhary. BCCI officials say that they were not kept in the loop before extending the contract.
In a mail written by treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry to the CoA on January 14, he makes it clear that the office bearers were invited for a meeting by the committee on August 9 and one of the agendas was to discuss the ‘Ad-factors contract renewal’.
However, in the meeting CEO Rahul Johri addressed CoA chief Vinod Rai that the matter was decided a day before. After discussion and based on the CEO’s recommendations, the CoA approved the renewal of contracts for a year.