sns & agencies
NEW DELHI, 4 JUNE: India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (in photo) has come under criticism from some former cricketers in the conflict-of-interest row for owning stakes in a sport management company handling him and three of his Indian team-mates.
Dhoni found himself in a controversy when it was found that he had a 15 per cent stake in Rhiti Sports, which also managed Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja and Pragyan Ojha. However, the firm has made it clear that Dhoni was a shareholder only for a brief period, and currently has no stakes. But former Indian cricketers and management executives feel that Dhoni should not put himself in a position where conflict-of-interest questions could be raised. “Obviously, the documents that have come out indicate a conflict of interests as far as Dhoni’s involvement with Rhiti Sports is concerned,” Kirti Azad said, adding: “I don’t mind if an ex-cricketer is acting as an agent for a living. But when I see Pragyan Ojha being relegated to the state of a second-choice left-arm spinner suddenly and Ravindra Jadeja being valued at $2 million after being banned for trying to cut underhand deals in the Indian Premier League, I guess something is wrong. Also, if the company didn’t have sufficient money, how did they issue shares and paid it back?” Latika Khaneja of the Collage Sports management group said there was an obvious conflict of interests, raising questions about the Rs 210 crore deal that had been struck between the captain and the company.
“Obviously, there is a conflict-of-interest situation. The first question that crops up is about the Rs 210 crore minimum guarantee money, which is huge. Ravindra Jadeja was managed by my company from 2006 to 2011. But if a player wants to join another firm, you can’t stop him, especially if the firm is also managing the India captain,” Khaneja said. Maninder Singh said much the same thing about the row, adding: “But whom do you expect to stop the rot when the Board of Control for Cricket in India president has (taken on) everyone who has stood up for the game?  Basically, the president has been saving the captain, who is also a vice-president in his company,” he said. Chetan Chauhan said, ethically, it was not correct for Dhoni to own stakes in the company which managed him.
“It seems to be trickling down from the BCCI president. Board officials need to take some harsh decisions and make clear what businesses players and officials can float on their own,” he said.
Madan Lal said it was not proper for Dhoni to own stakes in the company but he did not think the India captain could manipulate team selection. VVS Laxman said the skipper should sell off his shares, if he had any, as it could drive him into a compromising situation.
“When such a problem arises, a stakeholder should come out of the company by selling his shares. I think that can solve all the problems at one go,” he said. Rhiti Sports management was set up and run by Dhoni’s long-time friend Arun Pandey, who had played in three first-class matches.
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