IPL: Modi breaks his silence

IPL: Modi breaks his silence

MUMBAI: Finally breaking his silence, former Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman and commissioner Lalit Modi has asserted that the auction process for two new teams earlier this year was not rigged.

He has also said that he did not benefit monetarily from the IPL and also said that he does not regret making mistakes as it helped take the IPL forward.

Modi was speaking to Mihir Bose in an interview on Youtube. 

Talking about allegations that he was rigging the process of the second auction for two new teams, he said, "How do you rig the process? It‘s an open bid, it‘s a tender process, you put in the tender, the highest-bidder wins. If that was not the case, why did Adani not win? Why did Videocon not win? Sahara went and won it for $370 million because it was an open process.

"At the end of the day, the people who put the maximum amount of money and safeguard the IPL and the BCCI go out and win. What we can do is only lay down the guidelines and anyway, any guideline we do put down is approved and is made up by a whole lot of people, it‘s not done by me."

While he doesn‘t regret tweeting about the shareholding pattern of Kochi, he says that it wasn‘t intended to embarrass anybody. "It was for the intention to get the truth out there, it wasn‘t intended to ridicule, embarrass a minister or the government."

Talking about the Kochi bid, he said that for the first time he found that an agreement had been submitted by a party where it had a 25 per cent sweat equity clause irrespective of the capitalisation.

"Now, for me it was very important to point out to the BCCI that this agreement is not going to fly because the people who were buying into it had no understanding of what they were getting into and when I sat with all of them. It was my job as chairman and commissioner to sit with each one of the perspective owners coming in and explain to them the business of the IPL.

"It may look sexy, it may look fun, it may look, you know, you want to be out there with an owners badge and be sitting out there, at the end of the day it‘s business for them, and today you must support it for other various reasons. But sooner down the line it‘s going to become business and your accountant‘s going to tell you "guys you‘re going to be bankrupt" or "you‘ve got to pump in more money".

Talking about the first auction, he asserts that the bidding process was totally transparent, it was done through an international tender process, the people who paid were in the bidding room, they sat there, everybody knew who they were, they all signed on the dotted line, they took the tender, they took the documentation.

"So when somebody turns around and says that they didn‘t know about it, it‘s absolutely a false story, they knew about it from day one, everybody and everybody, I mean everybody concerned from the Governing Council to the BCCI members, were very much present in the room, and in fact everybody was just happy at that point in time because we got eight bids, at the end of the day, and I mean they were extremely happy that they got eight bids."

Talking about the $80 facilitaion fee that Multi Screen Media (MSM) had to pay the World Sports Group (WSG) Modi says, "When we went out to market the rights of IPL you‘d be surprised sitting here today that there was one bidder and that one bidder was World Sports Group. MSM had actually bid and withdrew their bid prior to the bids even opening. ESPN bid, but they‘d put zero number on the table. Hence their bid was disqualified.

"They said, "we didn‘t think this is going to work, we‘ll do a revenue share deal with you". The only company that actually put any money on the table above the minimum guarantee amount was WSG in round one and then they also did a back to back licensing deal with Sony. Now, what‘s the job of a marketing company which we all forget?

"A marketing company‘s job is to buy and sell rights, so if they bought a right that‘s close to $2 billion as an example and they sold it for two billion eighty to somebody as an example, and they made $80 million over a ten year period, what‘s wrong with that?

"I‘m surprised that they only made that kind of money. So first and foremost somebody came out there, took a risk, believed in the product and of course if we had failed,l the BCCI would be sitting out there and saying oh you know, we have locked in our money and the WSG will be going back crying and saying they‘d lost a lot of money, so when you say that the WSG were going to make $80 million over a 10-year period, I‘m so happy that they‘re going to make $80 million over period of 10 years because they deserve it, they took the right decision.

"They took the risk with us at a point of time when nobody was ready to take the risk, they bought the rights and then they‘ve gone out and further sold it to a third party."

"Let‘s talk about the amount of deals that I‘ve done for the BCCI in 2005 since I‘ve come in. Prior to me coming in look at the results of the BCCI at that point in time, how much money they made, probably the BCCI would make $30, $40 million a year. I changed the marketing structure, I changed the way we did business and see where the BCCI is today."

This he says was done because of his learnings that he had in his previous jobs whether it was at Disney or with ESPN. "I looked at where the value lay and I took the value that traditionally were kept by broadcasters or marketing companies and I applied those principles and took them to a federation and made the federation earn all the money. I did that on my own time, at my own cost and we keep talking about $80 million I made that the BCCI lost. What about the billions of dollars I helped BCCI pocket?"

Asked about the BCCI turning against him, Modi says that it seems incredible. "I guess they didn‘t expect the IPL to succeed, number one, and as it has succeeded, there‘s a lot of jealousy all around. It was more than meets the eye, it‘s not only about the IPL it‘s about the running of the BCCI, there are, you know, vested groups out there trying to take control, and there is, you know, more to it."

Asked about his working relationship with his colleagues, the ex-IPL Commissioner says, "I worked with a whole lot of my colleagues and everyone that I worked with was very happy and first and foremost every supplier of mine, every team owner, every advertiser, all the fans, all the boards that I worked with were extremely happy with the way I worked.

Modi says that he has got the limelight, won many awards and that he has been talked about everywhere. "It has upset some people, and at the end of the day I‘m not there to please everybody, I can‘t please everybody and that‘s not my job, my job out there was to deliver a world-class league that would benefit everybody, benefit the players, build the infrastructure, go out there and you know, with our heads high up to show to the world that yes we, modern India can do it and at the end of the day, it was the people of India and the fans that helped me do it."