BBC BLOGS - David Bond
« Previous | Main | Next »

IPL's integrity is at stake

Post categories:

David Bond | 10:50 UK time, Tuesday, 27 April 2010

It may seem like a distant and unseemly squabble but the scandal engulfing Indian cricket and Lalit Modi, the suspended chairman of the Indian Premier League, matters.

Why? Well, two reasons.

The first goes to the very heart of cricket. India is the powerhouse of the world game, generating more money than the rest of the planet's cricket boards put together, and the extraordinary growth of the IPL since its inception in 2008 has only strengthened the country's commercial and financial grip on the sport.

Modi was undoubtedly one of the principal architects of this new phenomenon, which has attracted England's best players but is yet to really capture our imagination.

He said when he first joined Indian cricket's governing body, the BCCI, it collected just £195,000 in revenue per match. Now, the 65 IPL games a season each bring in an average of £19.5m. This is no surprise when one considers the 138m viewers who watched this season's competition, which finished on Sunday.

SET India, now known as Multi Screen Media and the rights holders in India to the IPL, paid £1bn for a nine-year deal to show the competition, which is reportedly worth £2.6bn. These are figures even English football's Premier League would be proud of.

But it is this remarkable economic growth which has caused the IPL's problems. It has grown without any checks and balances, and, in the race for cash and TV rights, the BCCI was either unable, or unwilling, to keep a sufficiently close eye on what its lucrative spin-off was doing.

Ever since Modi sparked the scandal a fortnight ago by using Twitter to claim that the alleged girlfriend of a junior minister had received a share in one of the IPL's newest franchises (the junior minister had acted as an adviser to the consortium which won the bid), it has been almost impossible to keep track of the frenzy of allegations.

Lalit Modi is flanked by Bollywood actress and Kings XI Punjab cricket team co-owner Priety Zinta (left) and fellow actress and Rajasthan Royals co-owner Shilpa Shetty (right)Cricket and Bollywood go hand-in-hand in the IPL. Photo: Getty Images

Politics and cricket have always been intertwined in India but throw in a dash of big money and Bollywood and you have a heady mix the world is unable to resist. Even the New York Times carried a lengthy report on the affair on page three of its main section last week.

The main charges against Modi - which he has been given 15 days to respond to and which he strongly denies - essentially boil down to the following:

1. A lack of transparency over the ownership of teams, some of which are part owned by companies registered in the offshore tax haven of Mauritius;

2. That a "facilitation fee" was paid to help Multi Screen Media hold on to the Indian TV rights to the competition. The company was sacked before last year's IPL for breach of contract but renegotiated the deal for this season after paying a £52m fee;

3. That documents relating to three teams which missed out in the franchise auction for the IPL's first season in 2008 have gone missing. It is claimed Modi has them.

Separately, there have been reports that investigators have collated a list of 27 names involved in alleged match-fixing in the IPL has been collated by investigators, although cricket's ruling body, the International Cricket Council, says its anti-corruption unit are not investigating any claims.

India's cricket authorities are determined to clean up the IPL. They have appointed Chirayu Amin, a little-known industrialist and head of the Baroda Cricket Association, as the interim chairman of the competition. Former players Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri have also been brought in to help restore the IPL's integrity.

But serious damage has already been done, and this leads me to the second reason for the scandal's wider significance.

Even before the affair broke, it emerged that some of the IPL franchises were partly owned by the people responsible for overseeing the league, or by their families.

A large stake in the Rajasthan Royals, the team which is captained and coached by Shane Warne, is owned by the husband of Modi's wife's sister. And a company controlled by the husband of Modi's stepdaughter owns rights to show league games on the internet and mobile phones. He also holds a stake in the Kings XI Punjab.

If there is even the slightest suspicion that a small group of officials or businessmen hold stakes in a number of teams, how can the competition's integrity be guaranteed?

What the "bloodgate" and "crashgate" scandals in rugby union and Formula 1 showed us is that we need to believe in what we are seeing or sport becomes meaningless, an illusion cooked up for television.

With Modi promising to take others in Indian cricket down with him, "IPL-gate" is far from over. And coming so soon after English cricket paid the price for jumping into bed with Texan businessman Allen Stanford, who is in jail awaiting trial in fraud allegations in America, the sport's reputation cannot afford many more episodes like this one.

But the IPL and Twenty20 cricket is here to stay. Its commercial success will see to that.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Is it just me or was this bound to happen??

    Modi played God and annoyed enough people that someone was bound to start asking questions.

    The most telling quote was "promising to take other in Indian Cricket down with him" is that not a confession that there are things amiss??

  • Comment number 2.

    Unfortunately, the mess of the IPL is symptomatic of cricket's malaise in general. A sport, lagging behind in revenues, desperate to chase the golden goose. In England it was Stanford, India, Modi and his IPL. Make no mistake, Modi is a brilliant businessman, but shortcuts have been taken to cash in on India's success in the first World 20/20 2 1/2 years ago and it seems the BCCI is as guilty as the ECB in ignoring that which everyone else could see.
    The problem with cricket is the same as it has been for eons - amateurs running a professional sport, and then being surprised when events they don't understand conspire to make them look foolish. For the ECB last year, read the BCCI this.
    Cricket needs a central figure to look up to - A Sepp Blatter, who has the political ability / commercial acumen to pull the different parties together. Only one guy, Keith Bradshaw at the MCC, seems to have this. It may be a private club, but the MCC still retains huge respect around the world. Perhaps it's time for the ICC / ECB/ BCCI et al to ask for some proper help!

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    Maybe this blog explains why REAL cricket fans can't take 20:20 cricket in general, & the IPL in particular, very seriously. Made up teams with no historical local base & a format that suits TV, but nobody else, only has a limited shelf-life. The players involved better make what they can whilst they can as those behind IPL will soon get bored & move onto some other sport to use as their grubby little cash cow.

  • Comment number 5.

    Intresting to note the college men bastketball march madness NCAA contract with CBS and turner in the US is near 11 billion dollars for 14 years. In such IPL has large amount of growth ahead given the future econmic growth of India and its massive population.

  • Comment number 6.

    Not sure why this warrants such a high profile on the BBC.

    The IPL is a private business there maybe links to the indian cricket board, ICC or even god forbid the ECB but even if the pack of cards came tumbling down the world of REAl cricket will continue. The Packer empire of the 70's came to an abrupt end.

    The ICC, international and domestic board would carry on as normal and their players would have to rely on their careers, then punditary not a quick fix cash cow. There are only a small minority of players benefiting anyway along with some high-profile 'retired' players.

    If the IPL continues fine in its own country but its wider influence is over played just that some countries have yet to catch-up on the 20/20 merry go round.

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.


    "A large stake in the Rajasthan Royals, the team which is captained and coached by Shane Warne, is owned by the husband of Modi's wife's sister." Isn't this more commonly known as his brother in law?
    However, semantics apart, cronyism has often been rife in business in general and sport in particular.
    The advent of satellite TV has pumped huge amounts of money into a variety of sports - and there has always been those around the individual sports able and willing to find a way of rewarding themselves handsomely.
    Unfortunately TV based sport will continue to thrive with no local allegiances (viz USA) because of the huge audiences that can be generated compared to bums on seats in stadia, so the IPL will survive, contrary to to jimmyd0g's views.
    It'll be interesting to see how Modi defends himself and indeed whether or not he can bring down the BCCI.

  • Comment number 9.

    Why do the site publish views when there are issues only? I did not see a single scoreboard for IPL during last 3 years.

  • Comment number 10.

    Shock horror, corruption is rife in big business/sport, whatever next?

    Banks have deliberately kept everyone in the dark over their debts.
    The Pope is discovered praying.
    A bear is spotted defecating in a forest.
    A politician has been found abusing his/her privileges and feathering their nest with public money.

  • Comment number 11.

    Good post freddawlanen. You really put it in perspective. Question pop up. Whats the big deal. Where have the surprises come from. It is big business, so whatever happened to checks and balances. Why were they asleep till now. What is it if not collusion. Why Modi is deemed the sole perpetrator and the only person to be issued a charge sheet. What kind of transparency is aimed at if everyone guilty is not brought to book. What kind of hypocrites are we. Or is it even a grander attempt to pull wool over our very concept of integrity and uprightness in public office.

    If a modicum of faith and decency is to be maintained, they all need to be answered, honestly and courageously.

  • Comment number 12.

    I gave watching the IPL a try this year but was very quickly turned off by the incessant adverts and overcommercialisation of the game. IPL even advertised itself in between bowls! OK there were some excellent TV innovations and some rule changes but to me the cricket seemed a distant second place to commercialism. I was that turned off that I didn't watch the finals or the 3rd and 4th place play-offs. Whilst I realise that the game needs some cash injection I rue the day test match cricket went to commercial TV.

  • Comment number 13.

    IPL is India’s pride and is part of the success story of India becoming the super power. Latit Modi has done a great job may be with many flaw’s; it doesn’t change a thing in Indian Cricket. Basically these are allegation not proven which happens to any one on the course of success .IPL and cricket will survive in India because we have enough professional to handle crisis like this. I don’t think the BCCI need any advice from MCC or ECB. This issue cannot be compared with the shameful act of ECB joining hands with Texan businessman Stanford. In India everybody enjoys 20/20 cricket that doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy Test cricket .Test cricket is equally enjoyed by the people. There have been a lot of good things about IPL but I haven’t seen a single article on that, but now when there is problem (which is a very normal thing to happen in Indian cricket) I see so many articles written about it.
    Why is there no article on how cricket is not a popular sport in England and how ECB has failed carry the sport in the right direction?

  • Comment number 14.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 15.

    Please can you and other BBC journalists use a tad more imagination than to add 'gate' to the name of any scandal, anywhere, about anything? 35 years on, it's got boring. Thanks.

  • Comment number 16.

    jimmyd0g - wake up!

    The popularity of IPL is growing faster than anything - half a mil people watched in England this season. and truth is - it has just started. Take my word - in 10 years' time IPL will be among the 2-3 biggest sporting brand in the world. The big middle-class power of india is rising - 500 million strong supporters - thats twice the size of europe

  • Comment number 17.

    Gav, you live in a dream world.

    Firstly, "500 million strong supporters - thats twice the size of europe", where to start?
    You think that about 40% of India watch the IPL and are middle-class, or that Eupope only has a population of approx 250m, or the same as Britain, Germany, France, Poland and Spain ie less than a third of Europe as a whole.

    Secondly, there are far more people with the same views as Sue Doughcoup, than there are who actually like IPL in England, many of my friends (myself included) are avid cricket fans, none of us have watched more than 1 full IPL match, we're just turned off by the showbiz extravagance of it all.


    If 20/20 keeps its ritzy syle over cricketing substance, it will die out within 5 years, this is cricket afterall, not baseball.

  • Comment number 18.

    Gav, your use of the word 'brand' sums up all that is wrong with the IPL - and, indeed certain other sports events. Sport (real sport) has it's roots in the various local communities around the world, not in the invented teams or franchises (is there a worse word used in the world of sport?)that are the IPL. If I want to support a 'brand' then I will buy shares in Marks & Spencer or change my washing powder.

  • Comment number 19.

    freddawlanen its amazing how you go on yapping about something you dont care about.

    jimmyd0g you need to grow up some grey matter. If we go by your logic no new sports league should ever come up in this world. Lastly do see up word "brand" in the dictionary as well, you will find it has many meanings.

  • Comment number 20.

    CricketBuster, if I need to grow up (?) some grey matter then perhaps youy should learn some manners. As a cricket fan of about 50 years I think I have the right to have an opinion on the sport. You have a perfect right to disagree with my view. However, when you resort to personal insult then your point of view loses it's validity - something you might wish to think about before posting again.

  • Comment number 21.

    IPL was never bigger than the game it only highlight the game in a entertaining way. India as cricketing nation has given rest of the world more than just IPL in cricket. I don’t think English media need s to care so much about a domestic league in India. It’s high time the British media and the cricketing brains of Britain start thinking of stopping Cricket from dying in England. Cricket is not a favourite sport in England for a long time .It’s not even relayed in TV by BBC like football.BBC feels it is not profitable to relay Cricket on the Tele for free because the number of viewers is less. When is England going give the kind of attention Cricket deserves, I think it will only happen if you realise Cricket is flourishing in India not because of the money it generates ,it’s because of the love people have for the sport. I hope the British media and ECB will stop its cynical view and take leaf of Indian Cricket and revive Cricket in Britain. My other suggestion would be GET SOME HELP FROM LALIT MODI!!

  • Comment number 22.

    Hello freddawlanen

    IPL is a domestic league in India...Number of viewers in England doesn't make any difference to the growth of IPL.How many people watch county cricket in England?IPL is not popular in England only because of the negative publicity it gets from the English Media...thats because of egoistic ECB unable to accept the fact they are not the world leaders of cricket anymore and unable to take the sport in the right direction in England.

  • Comment number 23.

    Hello jimmyd0g
    Sport (real sport) has it's roots in the various local communities around the world, not in the invented teams or franchises -Totally accepeted .But sorry to say your assumption on IPL franchises were created without local communities is wrong.there is a lot of support for the franchises from the local communities..I understand it is hard for you to understand the scene in India were the cricket is more vibrant and loved by the local people unlike England.

  • Comment number 24.

    I hope the English Media and people stop their cynical view on the domestic league in India.India as cricketing nation has given rest of the world more than just IPL in cricket. I don’t think English media need s to care so much about a domestic league in India. It’s high time the British media and the cricketing brains of Britain start thinking of stopping Cricket from dying in England.

  • Comment number 25.

    BBC feels it is not profitable to relay Cricket on the Tele for free because the number of viewers is less. When is England going give the kind of attention Cricket deserves, I think it will only happen if you realise Cricket is flourishing in India not because of the money it generates ,it’s because of the love people have for the sport. I hope the British media and ECB will stop its cynical view and take leaf of Indian Cricket and revive Cricket in Britain. My other suggestion would be GET SOME HELP FROM LALIT MODI!!

  • Comment number 26.

    I love it when people like jimmyd0g can pass their opinion about domestic league sitting thousands of miles behind their PCs. If you have ever seen IPL in stadium you will know how much the local support works for these franchises but no you will try to form your impression based upon rubbish portrayed to you by your local media.

  • Comment number 27.

    What utter drivel.
    I criticise a post where someone plucks totally rubbish figures out of thin air and I'm the one in the wrong who doesn't know what I'm talking about.
    How does that work then?
    If I answered that question with honesty, I'd get accused of all kinds of things (shakes head more in sadness than disbelief).

    There are words to describe people like you CricketBuster and prakash (I've read quite a few of your posts, not just 1 or 2 so this isn't a knee-jerk reaction), but I'd never stoop down to your level, so all I'll say is, I pity you both (that's if you're not the same person with multiple accounts ;) ).

  • Comment number 28.

    Hello freddawlanen
    Sorry if I had offended you in any way did not intend to do so. I might have been a bit rude in the way I put things in perspective. But whatever I said is truth. Just to give you some idea how ignorant you are...read this article from The Independent-The IPL: Cricket's unexpected smash hit
    League leaders: IPL by numbers
    563,000 ITV 4's peak figure on 21 March when Chennai Super Kings beat King's XI Punjab in Chennai.
    151,000 The average number of viewers who watched Bangladesh against England on Sky Sports on 21 March. ITV 4 had an average of 297,000 for the IPL on the same day.
    33,000 The average number of viewers the now defunct Setanta Sports attracted last year for the IPL.
    42,000,000 The number of television viewers in India for the opening game of this year's IPL
    You like it or not ,this is what it is. And by the way I (Prakash) and CricketBuster are different people with different accounts.

  • Comment number 29.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

 

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.