The BCCI has suspended Lalit Modi, the IPL chairman, for "alleged acts of individual misdemeanours", bringing down the curtains on one particularly unsavoury episode in the BCCI's history but very possibly leaving the door open for more twists in this saga. Modi's three-year reign was effectively ended moments after the conclusion of the tournament final in Mumbai on Sunday and he responded in melodramatic fashion with an emotional speech at the awards ceremony.
The suspension notice was served on him by Rajeev Shukla, a BCCI vice-president, at the conclusion of Sunday's game, with N Srinivasan, the board secretary, sending an email to the same effect. It followed a day of negotiations with interlocutors attempting to persuade Modi to resign but pre-empted a potentially flashpoint at Monday's scheduled IPL governing council meeting, which Modi had said he would attend. He is now officially barred from participating in the affairs of the Board, the IPL and any other committee of the BCCI and has 15 days to respond to the charges levelled at him.
The public confirmation of his suspension came in a statement from BCCI president Shashank Manohar issued shortly after the end of Sunday's final. "Alleged acts of individual misdemeanours of Mr Lalit K Modi, chairman IPL and vice president BCCI, have brought a bad name to the administration of cricket and the game itself," it said.
"I have waited for IPL 2010 to conclude in order to respond to the situation as I did not want the event to be disrupted in any manner. Immediately after the conclusion of the IPL final, the secretary, BCCI Mr N Srinivasan has in consultation with me issued a show cause notice to Mr. Lalit K Modi under Rule 32 (iv) calling upon him to show cause within 15 days why disciplinary action should not be taken against him. Simultaneously, in exercise of the powers vested in me under Rule 32 (vii), I have suspended Mr. Lalit K Modi from participating in the affairs of the Board, the IPL, the working committee and any other committee of the Board of Control for Cricket in India."
Modi had apparently received that notice by the time he went up to the podium for the post-match presentations, and it prompted an emotional, lengthy speech. "We have had some off field unpleasant dramas only based on innuendo, half truths and motivated leaks from all kinds of sources," he said. "I assure you all decisions have been taken jointly by the governing council and approved by the general body... Still, as the leader of the team, if there is any flouting of rules or any other financial irregularity, I will take full responsibility."
Earlier, before he received the notice, he had taken a similar combative stand while talking to NDTV. Informed of the imminent suspension, he said: ""Good for them. Are they so scared of me attending? Are they so scared of the truth?"
His allusion was to the growing perception that Modi alone was not responsible for the alleged misdemeanours, that there were other, possibly more powerful forces at play as well. Those forces would have preferred Modi to resign, resulting in a swift and clean break, rather than be sacked, which would necessitate a formal inquiry and the production of potentially damaging documents.
In any case, Modi's suspension rules him out of Monday's IPL governing council meeting. The meeting had been convened by Srinivasan but Modi had, on Sunday evening, sent out an agenda that included "a discussion on any complaints received in writing from members of the governing council against the chairman, other members of the council and/or the BCCI."It also said members of the governing council "had been requested to give all such complaints in writing with the requisite supporting documents".
The agenda is now likely to focus more on life after Lalit: picking an interim IPL chairman and working out a plan for the future. BCCI sources say for the moment Manohar will himself take charge of the IPL sub-committee. The first few weeks are likely to be spent in a clean-up operation and a scrutiny of the Modi-era transactions.
The actual management of the league is likely to be handed over to a CEO - probably appointed from outside - with reduced powers but greater assistance. He could be assisted by department heads for marketing, finance, logistics and the like.