The IPL mess May 17, 2010

Indian board meets IMG officials over IPL

Senior BCCI functionaries, including Shashank Manohar (president) and N Srinivasan (secretary) met the top brass of IMG in Mumbai on Monday to seek clarifications on their role in the various allegations related to the IPL. The meeting was described by Andrew Wildblood, IMG's senior vice-president, as "brief, friendly and constructive."

IMG, one of the top global sports management firms, has been a key part of the IPL since its inception, primarily involved in areas such as formulating the franchise bidding, player contracts and auctions, the media rights issues, the broadcast rights and especially the day-to-day running of the league. Its role in the running of the league has come into question since the suspension of Lalit Modi as the IPL chairman. It was expected that the board would clarify whether IMG was aware of Modi's alleged misdemeanours, including the charges related to rigging of the initial bids for a couple of franchises in 2008.

The IMG team in Mumbai also included its senior legal counsels Paul Manning and John Laffhagen, the latter having drafted the player contracts.

Manohar had seemingly pointed fingers at IMG immediately after the IPL governing council meeting on April 26, saying the council trusted Modi and the IMG to run the league in a professional manner. He was responding to a query about the culpability of the council in the IPL mess.

"An institution functions on trust," Manohar had said. "If you are expecting every governing council member to come here every morning at 10 and leave at 10 in the night to look at what is happening everywhere, then we don't need the other staff which is there. Then we don't need to pay IMG Rs 27 crore [approx $6 million] and we don't need a CEO to run the IPL. It is their job to do all these things."

This is not the first time IMG has been caught in a web of controversy. The board was unhappy with the original deal signed by the IPL with IMG which involved a management fee of 10% of tournament revenue. IMG was paid Rs 43 crore after IPL 1 and Rs 33 crore after the tournament was shifted to South Africa in 2009. The board then asked IMG to submit a revised proposal but the latter failed to do so within the stipulated deadline and hence the contract was terminated in 2008. Eventually the contract was re-negotiated and both parties settled for a figure of Rs 27 crore as annual payment from the third season.

Apart from the IPL controversy, the board was also expected to question IMG's role in the proposed "parallel IPL" in the UK, a charge that was pressed by Giles Clarke, the ECB chairman recently. Clarke alleged that Modi was trying to induce counties to set-up a rebel Twenty20 league that would undermine the ECB. The reason IMG got dragged into the imbroglio was because of the presence of two of its senior officials - Wildblood and Peter Griffiths (director of operations) at the March 31 meeting, where Modi met representatives from Lancashire, Warwickshire and Yorkshire.

IMG vehemently denied their role in setting up any such league and clarified through a statement that they had just facilitated a meeting between Modi and the counties. The BCCI issued a second show-cause to Modi in the Clarke affair, asking him to submit his reply in 15 days. The deadline expires on May 21.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo