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Wednesday, June 05, 2013

MS Dhoni’s Two Options: Step Down Or Sell 'All' Stakes

By Omer Shah / Mumbai

Why does Mahendra Singh Dhoni not feel the need to clarify anything? From poor field settings to lack of intent to bad management practices? Well, one might argue that like BCCI president N Srinivasan, he too feels he is innocent of all charges. So in his mind, he has done no wrong and that means he doesn’t need to answer any questions. But that seems far from the harsh truth.

After the Economic Times broke the story about the Indian skipper’s 15 percent stake in Rhiti Sports, the sports marketing/management company responded with a statement to clear the air. “As on date, MSD holds no shareholding in Rhiti Sports Management (P) Ltd. However, it is made clear that shareholding was allotted to MSD on 22.03.2013 only to secure certain old outstandings which were due for more than one year.

“Further, the payments were cleared in April 2013 and the shareholding was transferred back to promoter of the company on 26.04.2013,” Rhiti Sports chairman Arun Pandey said in the statement.
But even though Dhoni holds no shares in the company, Pandey and Dhoni continue to be business partners, and that basically means that the conflict of interest remains a very distinct threat for the Indian captain and for Indian cricket on the whole.

Dhoni still has a stake in Rhiti MSD Alamode Pvt Ltd — 65 percent (for Dhoni and his wife Sakshi), 30 percent (Arun Pandey) and 5 percent (Rhiti Sports).

Former India opener Chetan Chauhan has said it was ethically not correct for Dhoni to have stakes in the company, which manages him.

“Ethically this is not correct. It seems to be trickling down from the president. The Board officials need to take some harsh decisions and make it clear what business the players and officials can float of their own,” he said.

VVS Laxman felt that the Indian skipper should sell off his shares, if he had any, as it could drive him into a compromising situation.

“When such a problem arises, stakeholder should come out of the company by selling his shares off. I think that can solve all the problems at one go,” he said.

As things stand, Dhoni has two clear choices. His only choices.

1. Step down. Once he steps down as captain, he can’t influence team selection. The conflict of interest talk will die down.

2. Sell his stake and disassociate himself from Rhiti Sports in every way possible, which is what VVS Laxman has suggested. And he gets to stay as the captain of India (god knows we need him there.)

The Board’s interim head Jagmohan Dalmiya, however, said that he couldn’t comment on the issue till further details were ascertained.

“I haven’t gone through the matter yet. Can’t comment until I have full knowledge of the facts,” Dalmiya told The Indian Express.

BCCI vice-president Niranjan Shah said: “As of now, all we have are media reports. We will discuss it in our next meeting. Dalmiya will decide when is the next meeting. First we have to find out if at all there’s a conflict of interest. If we are convinced, only then will we ask the them (the company) to submit the papers.”

So for the moment, the BCCI has put the issue on the backburner. But doesn’t Dhoni have his own conscience to answer to?

Then again, in this day and age, what good is a conscience…
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