Indian Premier League 2009 February 16, 2009

Jaipur could lose its IPL matches

Top Curve
What's troubling Lalit Modi
  • February 2005: After a controversial election, Lalit Modi becomes president of Rajasthan Cricket Association, controlled by the Rungta family for 38 years.
  • December 11, 2008: Vasundhara Raje, in whose election campaign Modi played a key backroom role, is ousted as Rajasthan chief minister.
  • January 21, 2009: A group headed by Kishore Rungta lodges a complaint against Modi alleging misappropriation of funds.
  • January 28, 2009: Modi is accused of forging residence documents to enable him to contest the RCA elections in 2005
  • January 30, 2009: Modi appoints a three-member arbitration tribunal comprising retired Supreme Court judges to look into the charges filed against him
  • February 15, 2009: An NGO accuses Modi of fraud, alleging that a promised Rs 6 crore (US$1.2million) donation never reached the Chief Minister's Relief Fund.
  • February 16, 2009: In a bid to pressure the RCA, Modi has suggested the home matches of the Rajasthan Royals could be shifted out of Jaipur. The Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur hosted the Rajasthan IPL team's home games last season.
  • Much of Modi's troubles are cropping up because elections to the RCA are round the corner. They were scheduled to be held on February 21 but a Jaipur court has stayed the election process till February 24.
Bottom Curve

Lalit Modi, the IPL chairman, has said the league may shift matches out of Jaipur if it perceives any opposition to the staging of matches there from the state or city administration. This is the latest twist in Modi's ongoing tussle with dissidents from the local Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA), which he heads.

Jaipur is the base of Rajasthan Royals, the reigning IPL champions, but Modi said the IPL governing council had given him the authority to scrap venues in such cases.

Modi, the president of the RCA, has been at the centre of controversy ever since the Rajasthan government changed hands in a recent election. Modi had close ties with the previous administration but is now facing charges of forgery and fraud and is battling to retain the RCA president's post in the upcoming elections.

Last week, the police filed another case against Modi after a local aid organisation alleged he had failed to deposit with the government the Rs 60 million [approximately US$1.23m] he had publicly pledged for the victims of the Jaipur bomb blasts, which took place during the last IPL. Today, Modi claimed that he was just a facilitator for the funds and it was the franchises and sponsors who needed to pay the money. "I believe some of them have done so and others will be doing so," he said.

Modi said the series of allegations were "politically motivated". "The FIR (First Information Report) against me specifically in relation to the IPL is ill-conceived and looks to be politically motivated. Nowhere are complaints registered in the morning and turned into FIRs in the afternoon," he said. "If any government, anywhere, is going to deter us from holding any of the IPL matches, the governing council has authorised me to make the final decision on whether or not to hold matches at any venue."

Some of Rajasthan's matches this season are expected to be played in Ahmedabad, one of two new venues - along with Cuttack - shortlisted by the IPL for the tournament. Modi said each franchise had the option of choosing two grounds in and around its catchment area and the final list will be decided in the next couple of days. "There is an additional venue being discussed but we are waiting for a final decision on that from the franchise which is looking at another venue," Modi said. Because of that the IPL has postponed the tender process for the production rights to Friday.

There appears, however, to be a problem over the venue of this year's final. Choosing the venue is the title holders' prerogative and Rajasthan Royals had picked the Brabourne Stadium, though it comes with strings attached - the constitution of the Cricket Club of India (CCI), the ground's owners, does not permit non-members' seating in the pavilion, something the IPL wants desperately. The league has submitted its terms and conditions to the CCI and will hope the members agree at the special general body meeting called for February 27.

"We have offered to give them 5000 seats in the West end," Modi said. "If that does not work out Rajasthan can decide on the DY Patil Stadium [also in Mumbai] as an alternative or move to any other venue in the country."

Chennai Super Kings, last year's runner-up have the right to hold the semifinals and they have decided to host both games in Chennai. Modi added that from this year onwards the semi-finals and finals will be operated by the IPL and the revenue would be shared between the IPL, the BCCI and the franchise that holds the rights.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

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