“‘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.”
As per the contract between the BCCI and the PR company, in possession of CricketNext, the role of the agency was to build, enhance and nurture the reputation of the board with its vision, strategy and plans. However, board officials argue that the Rs 12,65,000 monthly retainer paid to the company, as per an invoice accessed by CricketNext, is unnecessary as the BCCI has an in-house media cell.
“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.”
While the initial agreement was signed in 2016 by then secretary Ajay Shirke, the new one that extends the contract till August 21, 2018 was signed by current acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary. But as per mails exchanged between BCCI office bearers and the Committee of Administrators, accessed by CricketNext, the board members 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 PR firm's 'contract renewal’. However, at the meeting when the item came up, CEO Rahul Johri addressed CoA chief Vinod Rai and said that the matter had already been decided the day before. In the minutes of the meeting though, it was said that the CEO had explained the contracts with the company was expiring. After discussion and based on the CEO’s recommendations, the CoA approved the renewal of contracts for a year.
First Published: July 4, 2018, 4:21 PM IST