Indian Premier League 2010 August 31, 2009

IPL franchises protest IMG removal - report

Cricinfo staff

The Indian board's decision to terminate the services of IMG, the sports management firm, for the IPL appears to have snowballed into a confrontation between the BCCI and at least four of the league's eight franchises. The owners of Mumbai, Kolkata, Jaipur and Delhi have protested the removal of IMG and claimed in separate letters sent to senior BCCI officials that the move would destroy the league's value and dilute its success, a media report said.

The BCCI had informed IMG on Friday that it would not use its services any longer for the IPL following a disagreement over payments for the league's second season in South Africa. N Srinivasan, the BCCI secretary, claimed that the fee was disproportionate to the services rendered. IMG played a key role in setting up the inaugural IPL in 2008, for which the BCCI claimed to have made a payment of Rs 42.92 crore (US$ 9.54 million approx), and it also managed the second IPL that was shifted to South Africa.

Mukesh Ambani, the industrialist who owns Mumbai Indians, said that he was shocked at what he claimed was a unilateral move to remove IMG and added it was worrying that the decision was taken without consulting the franchises, the Times of India reported.

The newspaper claimed to be in possession of three other similar letters written by Shah Rukh Khan, the Bollywood star who co-owns Kolkata Knight Riders, and the managements of Jaipur and Delhi. These letters, the report said, were addressed to Shashank Manohar, the BCCI president, Lalit Modi, the IPL commissioner, and Sharad Pawar, the former BCCI president.

The letters are being seen in Indian cricket circles as a collective move by the franchises -- except possibly Chennai, which is owned by Srinivasan -- to back Modi, who is keen to retain IMG for the league and is not in favour of the BCCI's latest decision. Another section within the BCCI is keen that the Indian board take over the running of the IPL entirely. The issue will now be discussed at the IPL governing council meeting on Wednesday.

The newspaper report, meanwhile, quoted Shah Rukh Khan as saying that the decision to remove IMG was a matter of concern and anxiety, and indicating that the private firm had ensured that the quality of IPL was better than that of the recent ICC World Twenty20 in England. Manoj Badale, the Jaipur co-owner, protested against the manner in which the decision was made, the report said, and the Delhi management said they were unaware of any other firm of a similar stature to run the IPL.

"I am personally shocked at the unilateral decision of doing away with the services of the IMG. We are only two seasons old, and we need the continued participation and support of the most capable partners globally to take the IPL from strength to strength," the Times of India quoted Ambani as saying in his letter. "It is also worrying to me that such a significant decision in relation to IPL has been taken without even so much as consulting the franchisees. I strongly believe that this decision, if taken forward, will destroy substantial value for all the stakeholders, especially the franchisees, and dilute the success of IPL in the coming years.''

Shah Rukh said the owners had paid huge sums to the IPL for the franchise rights because they believed that it was a world class event. "It's a matter of sincere concern and anxiety, that IMG, who have been an integral part of the tournament management and it success so far, have been expelled due to failure of commercial negotiations,'' the newspaper quoted him as saying in his letter. "This is evident in the recent ICC World T20 Championships, which took place in England, the delivery of which was nowhere near the quality of the IPL."

The eight franchises had bid a total amount of US$723.59 million for team ownership rights from the BCCI in 2008, and hope to have a significant say in its operations.

(US$1=Rs 45)