Indian Premier League

IPL accused of violating norms at Wanderers

Ajay S Shankar

July 22, 2009

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Gerald Majola and Lalit Modi at a press conference, Johannesburg, March 24, 2009
Both Lalit Modi and the South African board have dismissed the GCB's allegations as "completely baseless" © AFP
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The IPL and its commissioner, Lalit Modi, have come under heavy criticism from the Gauteng Cricket Board (GCB), which manages the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg, over issues surrounding the hosting of matches at the ground during the second season of the Twenty20 league in South Africa early this year.

In a strongly-worded internal document (dated June 16) that has been circulated among members of the Gauteng board, Ray Wentzel, the GCB treasurer, has accused the IPL of violating various norms, especially for the semi-finals and final on May 24, including attempts to forcibly take over all stadium operations, such as ticketing and parking systems.

The issue has ramifications beyond the IPL and beyond sundry matters such as parking spaces and ticket prices; at stake is the future of the Wanderers, one of cricket's most famous and historic grounds. The CSA board's members' forum has refused to allot any international matches to the Wanderers until the GCB apologises for its allegations and submits its match hosting conditions and, as a result, Wanderers has been stripped of a Test, an ODI and a Twenty20 game it was due to host during England's tour later this year. This ban will not affect the Champions Trophy in September as it is an ICC event involving separate agreements but the tournament schedule released on Monday has only three matches at the Wanderers - which won't host the final either.

Barry Skjoldhammer, the GCB chairman, said the document is "only a draft" and not the final report and hence cannot be treated as an "accepted official document". However, he said it had been circulated among members of the GCB. "We have certain reservations about the conduct of the IPL," Skjoldhammer told Cricinfo. "But these are not so much against IPL as with Cricket South Africa (CSA) and the way in which they left us to deal with IPL on our own. We are in discussions and I am confident that the issue will be resolved."

When contacted, Modi dismissed the GCB's allegations as "completely baseless" and referred to the "clean stadium agreement" that the IPL had signed, which gives the league complete control of the venue, including ticketing and parking. "The IPL has enjoyed close and wonderful cooperation with CSA and officials in the seven other provinces in the country where our matches were staged," he told Cricinfo.

Gerald Majola, the CSA chief executive, said the South African cricket board has dismissed Gauteng's allegations against the IPL and are awaiting an apology from the GCB in this regard.

The Gauteng document, which runs to 35 pages including annexures, points to a series of disagreements between the GCB and IPL on a number of issues, ranging from parking spaces, pouring (alcohol) rights, hospitality requirements and ticket prices. "We have been exposed to multiple threats and accusations of dishonesty and lying," it says. "The IPL's total disregard of ethics, manners and responsible negotiations protocols reflects an arrogant disregard of their status as guests in South Africa and guests of the South African cricket community."

The document claims that "the most serious of all issues" was "Modi's attempts to take control of the entire Stadium operation for the Semi-Final and Final, regardless of the cost or disruption". It thanks the Gauteng provincial government and Johannesburg City Council for "assisting in what was a potentially catastrophic situation around the parking allocations, which had the potential to spill over into major tragedy along the lines of the Ellis Park disaster… if we had not been able to deal with this threat, GCB would have had no option but to have refused to allow the Semi Final to take place."

The document suggests, for instance, that the tussle for parking space between Gauteng and the IPL was yet to be resolved with just hours to go for the semi-final between Bangalore Royal Challengers and Chennai Super Kings at the Wanderers on May 23.

The GCB's biggest complaint against the IPL appears to be the manner in which it claims it has been misled on the requirement of parking during the semi-final and final. The internal document reproduces detailed email exchanges between Sundar Raman, the IPL CEO, and GCB in this regard and concludes: "When their demands for a re-allocation of the parking to which they had previously agreed in writing were rejected, the IPL initially put forward patently false claims that their demands were necessary for security reasons arising from the visit to the Final of President (Jacob) Zuma.

"When these claims were refuted by GCB on the strength of information given to us by the Presidential Security Unit and by the responsible arm of the SAP, the IPL simply persisted in its demands and threatened to disrupt the operational security and efficiency of the semi-final and the final unless its demands were met."

The document ends with what appears to be a direct, personal attack against Modi. "With specific regard to any future dealings with the IPL and Commissioner Modi, in whatever capacity, the Board should be mindful of his unacceptable personal behaviour in a variety of different ways."

The GCB document also accuses Majola of adopting "a consistently sycophantic attitude towards the IPL's demands and his total disregard of the rights of the provinces and their supporters". "We have also been dismayed by the politicizing of the IPL and GCB disagreements by the President of CSA Dr Mtutuzeli Nyoka," the document states.

Majola said the CSA's members forum, comprising all CSA affiliates, dismissed the criticisms by GCB against the management of the 2009 IPL by CSA, the IPL and the BCCI. "They [GCB] were instructed to apologise to all these parties and as yet no apology has been forthcoming," he told Cricinfo. "GCB has called for a dispute with CSA to be declared, and this has pushed the matter into the legal arena and will be dealt with by CSA's management committee."

Wentzel, the GCB treasurer, says in the document that the purpose "of this report is to give Board members an overview of our dealings with the IPL and CSA over the period leading up to and during the hosting of the IPL tournament in South Africa. Many issues have arisen in regard to which the Board will need to make policy and operational decisions for future events of this nature where cricket is played at our Stadium outside the control of existing national and international structures."

Ajay Shankar is a deputy editor at Cricinfo

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