Owning sports teams is a hobby only the super-rich can indulge in. The IPL finally created such a club in India. Amongst its prominent billionaire members was one Dr Mallya. He had tasted blood through his part-ownership of Force India, but owning the Bangalore IPL franchise was the real deal – a chance to compete for bragging rights that only the super-rich can.
He spent an exorbitant amount of money to buy the franchise and the players and also on the entertainment. Most of the money has been badly spent. The team was ill-suited to the format and lies at the bottom of the pile. The novelty of the cheer-leaders has worn off and the Force India F1 car sits like an orphan in one corner.
But all that is pardonable. There are other teams performing horribly and the entertainment efforts generally stink.
What is not pardonable, however, is the disgraceful manner in which Mallya has sacked his CEO – Charu Sharma. No reason has been given for the move – typical of tyrannical sports owners – they are accountable to none.
That captain Rahul Dravid was given a free-hand to pick the side is a well-known fact. And I am sure Mallya planned all the entertainment action. So, what is Charu’s fault? I don’t like him as a commentator and as a host but he hasn’t done anything to be treated this badly.
With this move, Mallya has a strong case to be anointed as the first ‘bad owner’ of the IPL. My heartiest congratulations to him. We need all kinds.
What defines bad owners is their knack for irrational and dictatorial moves – Hiring and firing the wrong guys at the drop of a hat. Charu’s unexplained sacking makes Mallya’s resume look complete. Giving Charu only 7 games to make winners out of RCB and that too with his hands tied to his back has to be considered a move worthy of membership.
I am tempted to compare Mallya to George Bush (a hopeless owner with the Texas Rangers in the MLB) but I’ll stick to the NBA. After all Lalit Modi has learnt the most from that league.
So I will call Mallya the Herb Kohl of the IPL. Herb is a senator like Mallya and spends a lot of money on his home-town team – the Milwaukee Bucks. But for all the money, the team stinks. They give big contracts to mediocre player (again sounds familiar, right) and change coaches and GM’s as a man changes his clothes.
A word of caution for Coach Venkatesh Prasad: Expect to be fired when you least expect it. You have a bad owner as a boss.