HKCA in limbo as officials pull out
Two key members of the new leadership-elect at the Hong Kong Cricket Association dropped a bombshell last night by withdrawing their candidacy, citing a possible conflict of interest with their jobs as chief investigators for the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
The expected smooth transition of power failed to materialise when Anoop Gidwani and Sudhir Gidwani withdrew as chairman-elect and treasurer-elect respectively on the eve of last night's annual general meeting.
The association's president-elect, Burji Shroff, also withdrew and with no one else standing, the governing body was in effect left rudderless with the clock ticking down to the Karp Group Hong Kong International Sixes less than five months away.
Last night's AGM was adjourned; fresh nominations will be called for and a new executive committee appointed, all within 90 days. It was decided the existing executive committee would continue until the AGM is reconvened. But it is understood the departing leadership are reluctant to make any major decisions, especially involving the Hong Kong Sixes, wanting to leave it to the new power bloc.
Anoop Gidwani had been expected to take over the top job of chairman of the executive committee - the president is a figurehead and does not have a vote - from Dinesh Tandon, who was stepping down after three years in the role. Shroff expected to step into the shoes of outgoing president Shahzada Saleem.
But during the transition period - the past few weeks - doubts rose in the minds of the twin brothers, Anoop and Sudhir, both of whom are chief investigators at the ICAC.
'What they were worried about was the commercial nature of our funding in the future,' Tandon said. 'They perceive there could be a conflict of interest with their positions as senior officers of the ICAC and they didn't want to get into any compromising situation in the future.'
Anoop Gidwani said: 'At present a large share of our funding comes from the ICC [International Cricket Council], ACC [Asian Cricket Council] and the government [LCSD, Mega Events Fund etc]. This source of money is not problematic. But in the future, if these funds dry up, and we have to maintain our standing in world cricket, we will have to look at outside sources of funding.
'And this is where a problem might arise, for I would not be comfortable going out to business houses in my role as chairman and asking for money. And I felt, if I could not do this, my presence could have an effect on the HKCA,' Gidwani said.
With the Gidwanis pulling out, Shroff also decided to withdraw, as he had originally agreed to stand as part of this new team at the helm.
All parties stressed that worries over the commercial aspects of funding the HKCA and the Hong Kong Sixes did not imply there was any mishandling of the association's finances. At last night's AGM, the HKCA's accounts were proposed and adopted by the Gidwani brothers.
The last-minute failure to elect the top office-bearers will be a blow to the HKCA as it looks ahead to staging another successful Hong Kong Sixes in October. Tandon insisted it would not have any effect on the popular tournament. 'Everything is running smoothly and preparations are well under way,' he said.
The big question now is who will come forward and accept the responsibility of steering the ship - and whether this issue is solved with a gentleman's handshake or will come down to a power struggle power with multiple candidates, as happened three years ago when both the positions of chairman and president were contested.
'Whatever happens, let's hope everything can be done by the end of this month,' Tandon said.