Despite the BCCI signing a deal with Star Sports in two phases for record-breaking amounts, domestic players are yet to receive the GRS for the last four years. It has left a sour aftertaste, with many players approaching their respective state associations for a solution.
Let’s break this down. A domestic player earns Rs 35,000 per day as the match fee for one red-ball game and Rs 17,500 per game in the Mushtaq Ali Trophy. So for a four-day Ranji Trophy match alone, players earn Rs 1,40,000 as the match fees, which is fixed, and then almost an equivalent amount as the Gross Revenue Share (GRS) from the BCCI. While the players normally receive the match fees within four months to the last game of the season, the GRS is often calculated a bit later, but never more than one season late.
However, what has come as a total irregularity in the system, the players are yet to receive a single penny as GRS since the 2016-17 season, when Anurag Thakur and Ajay Shirke were removed from their role of BCCI President and Secretary respectively, to be replaced by a Committee of Administrators (CoA). The Vinod Rai-led committee, which had undergone multiple transformations in their 34-month existence, talked about fair representation of domestic cricketers and increasing match fees, but as SportsCafe learnt from at least six domestic cricketers in the conversation in the last two weeks, they were all on paper.
In 2017, Star India dished out Rs 16,347.50 crore to secure the IPL Media Rights in a five-year deal and then a year later, they bid the Indian domestic rights for a whopping Rs 6,138.1 crore as the Global Consolidated Rights (GCR). That would eventually mean BCCI would receive Rs 60.1 crore per international match, compared to Rs 43.2 crore per match under the previous bid signed in 2012. Going by the digits, the domestic players stand to earn over 1,50,000 per one four-day match on the top of their match fees and that is quite an amount for most cricketers who can never dream to bag an IPL deal.
“Every time we ask for details, there is nothing but false promises from both association and the board. The last time we had received the GRS was for the 2015-16 season and since then, we have been waiting for the amount but there has hardly been any initiative. When the BCCI signed a deal with Star Sports for the IPL and home media rights, we were excited but see the situation now, especially during this pandemic, is pretty dire honestly,” a Ranji Trophy captain on the condition of anonymity told SportsCafe.
Attesting to that, another reputed player on the Indian domestic circuit said, “There has been no domestic contract. But the amount that we receive from the BCCI makes up for that. So the least you can do is to pay the amount at the right time. It has already been four years but there is no confirmation from the BCCI side yet.”
Searching for a solution, a group of players from a certain state team wrote to their Association Chief Executive Officer to find a solution, but no formal response was given. SportsCafe understands that few players even brought the issue to recently-resigned Head of BCCI Game Operations Saba Karim multiple times but the confusion was so prevailing that the matter has been delayed day after day with no real answer.
“Normally we receive the match fees in June or July once the season is over in March. This time, possibly due to repeated lockdowns, everything is in tatters. Without that, our situation during this pandemic is extremely hard. We want to do some social work and help people during the tough time, but our financial situation is not that great too to spend any money currently,” a cricketer, who made his first-class debut in 2017, added.
The situation is now getting worse due to the uncertainty around the upcoming domestic season amid the prevailing Coronavirus situation in the country. Even though the IPL contract holders will have some sort of respite with the contract fees once the league goes ahead in the UAE in September, the same can’t be said about the players, who have rents and EMIs to pay, and as one player told us, there are more pressing expenditures as well.
With everyone in the BCCI is busy in planning for the Indian Premier League in the UAE, it seems like the issue will hardly see a solution anytime soon. The IPL contracted players will get their dues from the major sources, but who would listen to the pleas of these cricketers fighting for the basics? Sourav Ganguly had made a lot of promises to the domestic players after taking over the role last year but can he please honour them now? It’s high time.