23 November 2021 last updated at 12:10 GMT
 
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Courtesy : Patriot Act
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Lalit K Modi

Over the past few days, I have been reading a lot of junk about my role in the Indian Premier League (IPL) becoming what it is today.

The fact that the IPL has walked away with 12,500 crores from the sale of two new teams is not a testament to anything but the solid foundation that I had laid down back in 2007 for the tournament.

There were very few takers for the tournament when I first sat down with my fellow BCCI board members. It took a lot of convincing, a lot of cajoling and thanks to the unstinted support of the venerable Mr. Sharad Pawar, the then BCCI president, we were able to realise our dream.

The road in the early days was laborious. No one knew what we were getting into. The sale of teams was unheard of in cricket, the auction of players was unheard of in cricket and the kind of money we got from TV rights was astronomical.

Now, why am I dwelling on history and retelling the great IPL story again? This is because aspersions have been cast about my comments on the sale of the two new teams. Specifically, it is with regards to the connection of one of the teams - which won the bid - to three betting companies. The Ahmedabad team's owners CVC Capital owns three betting companies worldwide and that is an issue I humbly pointed out.

Instead of sorting the issue out, the naysayers have again come out of the woodwork to mock my concern. Why should I not be concerned? I feel and rightly so that IPL is my baby. It deserves all my attention because even if I am far away from India, my love for the IPL is unending.

Remember IPL as provided a varied source of income for all involved. Players, coaches, trainers, physios, admins and many other external stakeholders. It is an economy in itself; just how can I not keep an eye on it.

The owners of the Ahmedabad franchise, CVC Capital, deserve to be celebrated, but are they above question? No. 

The questions I raised on the ownership of the three betting companies in their bouquet is genuine. However, the answers to those questions have been far from convincing. Unless I know otherwise, the Indian government or the parliament has still not legalized betting, or has it? Then how can we have one of the team owners with links to betting companies? Those betting companies may be operating legally outside India under relevant jurisdictions; how can that be permitted in India? Why has no one in the Indian cricket establishment paid any attention to this aspect? Or have they and not paid any attention to it?

These are relevant questions. What kind of due diligence has been done before signing on these two team owners. 

Similar questions but of a different kind were raised by me when the last time two teams had been sold back in 2010. Then we had Sahara and a motley crew taking over Kochi. I had voiced serious concerns about the ownership structure of the franchise of Kochi. But what I got in return was personal threats and nonsensical innuendos about myself. So much so that I was hounded out for raising ethical concerns.

When the teams were first sold in late 2007, we followed the due process, according to the letter of the law. Instead, by 2010, there were attempts made to dilute it. 

The same people who mock me or vilify me were the ones to question me then as well. 

Now the usual tropes about my alleged involvement in some imaginary 'scam' of IPL keep coming up. It is now getting tiresome for me to keep pointing out links on this website about my clean chit from various courts of law and investigating agencies. But, if I keep harking back to the past, it will not serve any purpose. So I am here to look ahead to the future with hope.

What we instead get is pushback from the interested parties. You can keep sweeping the matter under the carpet, but what it will do is set off another ticking time bomb. 

The last time the specter of fixing/corruption came out in the open, you know how badly it affected everyone. 

We carefully set up procedures involving the ICC's Anti Corruption Unit (ACU), limiting interactions between players and owners on match days. Then, we went about putting up an entire infrastructure that has safeguarded the future of our players and this great game of ours.

But yet another set of power brokers are trying to undermine all the hard work with a lazy devil may care attitude towards this. If we ignore the links of CVC Capital, we will be deemed to fail. But, on the other hand, if we step in now and stem in the rot, it will do us a world of good.

But instead, we have trolls masquerading as opinion-makers fronting for power brokers providing us input on who should and who shouldn't speak on issues.

While you are at it, tell us if we should or should not watch the IPL matches. Then, we can plan our life accordingly. 

On a serious note, that won't happen because till I'm alive, I will keep fighting to save the reputation of my billion-dollar baby, the IPL. So we deserve to truly protect India's only global brand in the last 75 years. 

What better than now as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of India's freedom.

Let us celebrate freedom but set benchmarks that the world is envious of.

 

Follow my thoughts on IPL 2021 through my Twitter account @lalitkmodi