22 October 2020 last updated at 16:35 GMT
 
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INDIA IS IPL, IPL IS INDIA
Lalit K Modi

INDIA IS IPL, IPL IS INDIA

 

There is a great sense of pride, when I look back, that India owns the greatest cricket league in history. I feel proud that the world has followed the Indian Premier League (IPL) formula to churn out an industry of sports leagues across the globe.

It has been 10 years since the first edition (in 2008) and today, IPL is an annual ritual, like a festival of India. An event that the whole nation as one embraces, watches, and together, they rejoice and celebrate. What else can I ever dream of? It was my dream to create something that binds our nation together.

Today, I am a proud ‘father’ who has watched his ‘baby’ grow, despite the numerous controversies. In the end when IPL begins, we forget all the worries and the nation comes together as one. It's something no one can take away from me and it's something I truly cherish wherever I am. IPL is India – India is IPL.

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It's the only one event in our nation’s calendar that can do just that – it binds us together for months. Everywhere I go, everyone I see, always, has the highest praise for the tournament and is always grateful for this creation. And I, for my part, am grateful to Mr Sharad Pawar (then president of BCCI) who allowed me to fulfil my dreams despite one and all saying, it would never work or sustain itself. I take pride that in 10 years the formula I created with the IPL, today, considered to be the most progressive event to be ever created from scratch in the 21st century, on a global scale. To be able to make a place in the hearts of over a billion Indians and many millions across the globe, is truly the greatest achievement of my life.

Along with that joy, is a tinge of sadness, that the people who took over from me, have not been able to take IPL to the heights it has the potential to reach. They have stripped away each of my ideals, instilled in the core of the IPL. I am glad that those days too are over and a new breed of men and women will now enter the BCCI and in the years to come they will propel IPL to greater heights. IPL will run for another 100 years, and I do believe it will be the only event in our nation that would bring us all together over the longest period in the calendar.

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This year the thought of eight opening ceremonies is a bad idea. It will lose its essence and a concept of an opening ceremony. You can create events each of the venues for the opening games, but to label them as opening ceremonies will cause fatigue to the television audience.

What we need is a commitment that we will put the fans and players in the forefront. If anything, there should be a thanksgiving to these two stakeholders. We have not done enough for them yet, especially the fans because they are what makes the sport what it is and forces the hands of potential sponsors.

I have always envisioned a day when IPL is played across the globe and we have five IPL matches across the five continents on the same day starting with Australia and moving across to India, other parts of Asia, Europe, Africa and then in the end in the USA. Imagine the impact of an IPL opening day on the world.

IPL is not going anywhere. It was always ahead of its time. We need to reclaim that space and ensure that we can go to the next level with the tournament. What that level is can be defined by the kind of innovations we can bring into the tournament. IPL needs to set the trend that others follow. We did that in 2008 and today, we have a few similar sounding products. Unfortunately, we have not innovated enough, whether in terms of technology or rules to make the sport more interesting. I have always dreamt of a longer IPL season like the English Premier League or the Champions League. The injuries, change of players who must go for national duty will make the league stronger and be more beneficial for the players, franchises, advertisers and broadcasters.

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In 2010, we pushed the envelope and shred it to bits -- there was IPL in 3D, on YouTube, streaming on every mobile device, apps, IPL gaming, IPL in cinemas.

My heart swelled with pride when India told the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in 2014 that the IPL’s success embodies emergence of sports as a global industry. India's UN Mission praised that the IPL was India's most profitable and popular sporting league and had generated employment and revenues for upcoming athletes, players, sporting associations, companies and all stakeholders. To get that praise from your own country at the UN General Assembly is the ultimate achievement for anyone.

There have been so many moments from IPL over 10 years that have stayed in my mind. But let me pick out the best of the best. The 158 from the bat of Brendon McCullum's in the first ever IPL match would be a favourite. In my mind, he played a significant role in making IPL a household name. That very day I had dedicated the success of IPL to Brendon. I went up to him in the dressing room and hugged him and said ‘Thank you, and I dedicate IPL to you. You alone, on its very first day have put it on the map’.

It was a dream I was not expecting -- but it happened.

It worked like clockwork. Moving the 2009 IPL to South Africa in 29 days and watching packed grounds for all the weeks of the tournament would be easily one of the toughest, but one of the most satisfying moments of my life. The shift was an act of boldness, audacity, and implementation. It was the IPL's way of declaring its independence. I am so thankful today that the government did not allow us to play in India -- and once again against all odds, not only did I move the whole tournament to South Africa, but made it a sell out in that country and back home in India, drew an even larger fan base and made IPL global product.

It is something that is being talked about even today, in every business case study in leading universities around the world. Columbia and Stanford University have done two case studies on how I built and sustained IPL even with a hostile government at that time. To me, that was one of my biggest challenges I had faced and once again the Gods blessed us. To be celebrated as one of the biggest Indian innovations of this century by the Business Today magazine was another highlight.

Case Studies were discussed at Columbia and Stanford University. Getting YouTube to live stream all the matches of the 2010 edition – a first for Google – was a proud moment given they had never done any event on such a large scale in the past. To take on the well-established primetime shows and get ratings higher than them was a testimony of getting the recipe correct across the country.

Lastly, and most importantly, to change the lives of domestic cricketers and bring them to the centre stage; improving their financial conditions is the most satisfying accomplishment of my life. How a single IPL contract changed the lives of domestic cricketers who would have otherwise finished their career without being acknowledged for their talent and hard work is truly the single most important achievement of the IPL.

The ideals I had instilled at the core of the IPL are being stripped away one by one. The ideals of value and wealth creation for all stakeholders are gone. The ideals of purity of brand are gone. The ideal of putting the customer first is gone, brushed aside by petty men looking for their moment in the sun. In its place is a new paradigm, a new tenet -- the creation of wealth for very few by many.

Is it, therefore, obvious that it has faltered? Is it surprising, when you compromise the interests of the league, of the sport itself, that today you are threatened by copycat leagues?

These leagues, all based on the model I had pioneered, they are fighting for the same glory and fan-base as the IPL. Even as the IPL has diminished, shrunk, other leagues are growing. The pro-kabaddi league was viewed by 435 million viewers. The Indian Super League was viewed by 429 million. Similar leagues have sprung up around hockey, around badminton, and they are rapidly gaining attention and developing traction. The HIL, IBL, IPTL, an entire alphabet soup of rivals, are all flourishing because the IPL lost sight of its ideals, its charter.

I have a lot of faith and belief in the reforms suggested by the Lodha Committee appointed by the Honourable Supreme Court and I have little doubt that they will retain the integrity of the league. But the IPL still needs innovation and ambition -- those two factors will determine the future success of the IPL. In the end, I have just three words to the new team – innovate, innovate, innovate in everything you do -- and if they can follow them, then there will be no looking back.

 

Like I say to my team in everything I do today – ‘surprise me’.

 

JAI HIND 🙏

http://www.outlookindia.com/magazine/story/ipl-was-always-ahead-of-its-time/298613

 

Lalit Kumar Modi

Proud Father of INDIAN PREMIER LEAGUE

FOUNDER AND ARCHITECT – IPL 

 

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