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BCCI pads up may block Shah Rukh Khan ban

MUMBAI: The Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) might have gone through with a ban onShah Rukh Khan from Wankhede but the viability of the embargo is questionable, particularly given the Bollywood superstar’s long-standing ties with the sport’s national governing body, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Some even predicted, in fact, that the ban could have political and commercial repercussions for MCA.As a business partner, Khan’s contribution toBCCI and IPL has been singular. He came onboard the idea of starting a Twenty20 leaguewhen few people shared the enthusiasm. In 2008, he bought Team Kolkata along with entrepreneur Jay Mehta for a whopping Rs 300 crore, giving the league a boost with his riches and celebrity. He also helped BCCI do the number-crunching required to ensure that IPL makes a splash in the market.He has since then assisted the BCCI on a number of occasions – for instance, on issues like increasing the number of IPL teams from eight to 10 and determining how an increase in the number of matches would affect the TRPs. He has partnered on events like the billion-dollarChampions League to perk up its saleability and attended workshops in and outside India regularly to find ways to better IPL.

Recently, he played a vital role in helping BCCI negotiate with Sahara India Parivar when the latter threatened to pull out as Team India’s sponsor and as owners of IPL’s Team Pune. Khan’s involvement in settling the dispute amicably was acknowledged by both the BCCI and Sahara owner Subrata Roy.

In such a scenario, it is unclear if the MCA’s decision to ban Khan from Wankhede despite BCCI’s apparent discomfort is practicable. The BCCI’s discomfort was clear on Friday when its vice-president Rajeev Shukla, who is also the IPL governing council chairman and a friend of Khan, said: “The MCA is well within its rights to ban Shah Rukh, but BCCI will take the final decision on the matter.”

A senior BCCI official who is bound to play a role when BCCI takes a final call on the MCA ban said that Khan’s role in IPL has to be “considered when a decision like that is taken. If he has committed a mistake in abusing individuals, he may be ready to sit across the table and sort things out. But you can’t just ban him because he came to the stadium in an inebriated state.”

Then, there is also the matter of the commercial impact. If the conflict grows further, Khan’s personal sponsors may threaten to pull out of IPL. Also, importantly, the 300-odd seats in Wankhede that are allotted to the visiting team during every match may remain empty every time Kolkata tours Mumbai.

The political ramifications of the ban are also significant. The West Bengal government, which has spoken in the actor’s support after the Wednesday night fracas, may further throw its weight behind the state’s brand ambassador and make the Wankhede ban a political whirlpool.

 

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