The IPL brand has been tarnished. Whether or not the loss of sheen is permanent, we have to wait and see, but there is little doubt that people’s faith in what had successfully become India’s only global sports brand is shaken. With scandals tumbling out of the IPL closet every second day and with the power games turning murkier by the minute, IPL’s future as a successful commercial entity is also in question.
Till some months earlier, the IPL was all about Lalit Modi. It was his baby and the buck, well and truly, stopped with him. Those were the days of the Modi honeymoon, when every move of the former IPL czar was hailed as marketing genius. As Modi’s stock soared, his way of functioning turned more and more dictatorial. The interesting thing, however, is that the BCCI, which is on a marketing overdrive to demonstrate itself as taking the ethical high ground, was a silent spectator. It had forgotten the age-old saying that perpetrators of crime and its silent supporters are equally culpable in the eyes of the world. Shady deals worth hundreds of crores were given a pass and Modi’s dealings continued unquestioned and unabated. In fact, had he not lost his senses and twitted at 2.35 am against former MOS for external affairs Shashi Tharoor, none of what we are seeing today would have transpired. Modi would have continued to be BCCI’s poster boy and Shashank Manohar’s cynical comment that Modi could now come and interview him alongside the journalists would not have made its way to becoming one of the most significant quotes in India’s cricket history.
For the BCCI, even the mention of Lalit Modi is anathema. Nothing else can explain the sudden wrath against the owners of Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab. It is, indeed, true that the government has found serious discrepancies in the shareholding patterns of these teams and the way the team managements have conducted their business. At the same time, one is forced to conjecture if the BCCI would have turned a blind eye to such findings had Lalit Modi’s credibility not reached rock bottom. That there are problems with the shareholding patterns of these teams has been known for months and yet they were allowed to go on with their business as usual. While the government has been silently conducting a probe into IPL affairs and