The IPL mess May 7, 2010

Counties rubbish allegations of parallel-IPL agenda

Cricinfo staff

The counties who met Lalit Modi in India in March have rubbished the allegations that they were involved in secret talks to set up a parallel IPL in which the existing franchises could bid for nine domestic teams in the UK. In a formal complaint to the BCCI, Giles Clarke, the ECB chairman, alleged that Modi was trying to induce the counties into activities that could prove "detrimental to Indian cricket, English cricket and world cricket at large."

Clarke's accusations forced the BCCI to slap a second show-cause notice notice on Modi in two weeks, after the board suspended him from all BCCI positions including that as the chairman of the IPL and pressed five specific charges ranging from financial impropriety to "behavioral pattern."

"This is totally overblown," Colin Graves, the Yorkshire chairman, told the Guardian on the accusation that Modi's plans had the potential to "hijack" the game. "It was a fact-finding mission. Lalit Modi did not put a proposition on the table. There were no secret proposals, no secret agenda, nothing underhand," Graves said.

Though Graves was not in Delhi at the meeting, Yorkshire's chief executive Stewart Regan met Modi, along with representatives from two other counties: Colin Povey, the Warwickshire chief executive and the Lancashire committee member David Hodgkiss.

"We attended that meeting in an educational capacity, as we wished to learn more about how the IPL has gone from nowhere to being one of the biggest sporting businesses in the world inside two years," Yorkshire's chief executive, Stewart Regan, told Cricinfo immediately after the BCCI made public the accusations against Modi. "The success of the IPL proves that cricket is a product that people want to buy and that sponsors want to get involved with, and those were the key learning areas that we were interested in. It would not be appropriate to comment any further."

Graves concurred with Regan on the success of the IPL model, pointing out the ECB could definitely learn a lot from that. He also stressed that the ECB were kept in the loop about the discussions and he had personally sent Clarke the notes of the meeting. "IPL has been extraordinarily successful and we can learn a lot from it. There was a proper business discussion about how things might develop in the future, the sort of discussions that can benefit the whole of English cricket. Stewart Regan took notes of the meeting and forwarded them to all the Test grounds. I then passed those notes to Giles Clarke. Lalit Modi invited all representatives of the Test grounds to be his personal guests at the IPL final. We turned the invitation down as we were not in a position to discuss anything in detail."

According to Clarke, Modi had presented the counties with a commercial proposition wherein if they supported his idea, the IPL would guarantee each county a minimum of $3-5 million per annum plus a staging fee of $1.5 million. "We have not been guaranteed anything, but if anybody puts anything on the table we will discuss it. We have nine Test grounds and only seven Tests a year. We have to find ways to fill these grounds outside the England team. The nine Test grounds are united in the belief we cannot allow the status quo to continue. There is no future in us creating another Twenty20 competition for all 18 counties. It is not attractive enough to fill the Test grounds. We have to create something new and exciting, a tournament with the appeal of IPL, a British version. We will continue to put these ideas to Giles," Graves said.