Guilty verdict in Super Kings match-fixing report

C RAJSHEKHAR RAO
Last updated 08:28 11/02/2014
Gurunath Meiyappan
Reuters
TEAM PRINCIPAL: Gurunath Meiyappan.
Narainswamy Srinivasan
Reuters
ICC PRESIDENT: Narainswamy Srinivasan.

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A committee investigating match-fixing in the Indian Premier League has found the son-in-law of Indian cricket board boss and ICC chairman-designate Narainswamy Srinivasan guilty of betting and passing on information to illegal bookmakers.

The three-member committee headed by Justice Mukul Mudgal announced its finding against Chennai Super Kings team principal Gurunath Meiyappan on Monday in a report presented to India's Supreme Court.  

Last year the Board of Control for Cricket in India cleared Meiyappan of the charges, but the matter was pursued in the courts after the Bombay High Court found the BCCI's decision was ''illegal and unconstitutional''.

Meiyappan spent two weeks in jail last year before being bailed.

The Supreme Court will study the 170-page report while it waits for the BCCI and Chennai Super Kings to respond to the findings. The Super Kings were coached by former Black Caps captain Stephen Fleming.

In the report, the committee did not agree with Srinivasan's contention that Meiyappan was ''just a cricket enthusiast'' and not involved in running the team, which was primarily owned by India Cements, of which Srinivasan was the managing director.

It said that ''Meiyappan was the face of Chennai Super Kings'' as he was often seen at the team dugout during IPL matches.

The Chennai franchise had referred to Meiyappan as the team principal, but denied that he had any official role in the team once he was arrested by police last year.

The committee also said that input from various agencies led it to believe that betting should be legalised in the country. At present, only betting on horse-racing was legal in India.

''They (investigating agencies) have stated that legalising sports betting would reduce the element of black (unaccounted-for) money and the influence of the underworld,'' the committee said in its report.  

The probe committee report was submitted just two days ahead of the next IPL auctions and could jeopardise the participation of the Chennai franchise in this year's tournament in April-May as a team can be barred if its officials bring the game into disrepute.

The court, however, allowed the auctions, slated for Wednesday and Thursday, to go ahead as scheduled.

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Former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi, who was seen as a rival of Srinivasan and was banned by the BCCI last year for financial irregularities, said strict action needed to be taken against the franchise and its officials.

''Life ban on all connected is a must,'' Modi wrote on his Twitter page. ''So I guess Srini's 2day victory as future warlord of cricket was short lived. I told u all so.''

Former BCCI president AC Muthiah also indicated that Srinivasan's role as an administrator was untenable.

''I've not seen the report, but I'm happy that justice has prevailed,'' he said.

''If it's all true, it has definitely weakened his (Srinivasan's) position. He has to recuse himself according to corporate principles because it is a clear case of conflict of interest.''

The IPL fixing controversy erupted last year after a clutch of cricketers including test pace bowler Shantakumaran Sreesanth were arrested by Indian police for allegedly giving away a minimum number of runs in exchange for money from bookies.

Also embroiled in the controversy was Rajasthan Royals co-owner Raj Kundra. He has previously acknowledged betting on matches, but was not arrested. The committee has suggested Kundra's role be investigated in detail.

- AP

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