The Indian Premier League (IPL) has a long and profitable future ahead of it but the suspension of tournament chief Lalit Modi must lead to reform, experts say.
“There is no choice, the IPL is too valuable to be dumped,” leading sports analyst Ayaz Memon said. “But first, trust has to be restored and that is not going to be easy.”
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Monday suspended Modi pending an internal probe into allegations of corruption, tax evasion and money-laundering that have sparked a tax investigation by the government.
Modi, 46, was also removed as a BCCI vice-president and as chairman of the T20 Champions League, a separate club tournament organized jointly by India, Australia and South Africa.
The IPL — based on the shortened, made-for-TV Twenty20 format and modeled partly on English soccer’s Premier League — has attracted the sport’s top international stars.
Modi ran the IPL like a one-man show from its inception three years ago, raising fears that without him the multi-billion-dollar tournament could suffer from lack of direction.
The BCCI, which owns the IPL and handed Modi his suspension order soon after the event’s final in Mumbai on Sunday night, moved quickly to try to ensure continuity.
Businessman Chirayu Amin, one of five BCCI vice-presidents and a veteran cricket administrator, was appointed to head the tournament’s governing council as interim chief.
Former national captains Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri — all members of the governing council — were put in charge of looking after future editions of the tournament.
The furore comes as two more franchises are to be added to the existing eight teams from next year, and a fresh auction of cricketers is due later this year.
“The immediate task is to clean up the IPL. That is the priority right now,” Amin said. “We will then start planning for next year.”
With the fourth edition of the tournament 12 months away, the BCCI has time on its side to take control of the event’s complex organization.
Memon said it would not be easy to replicate the hype of the past three years, in which a spectacular mix of sport and Bollywood glamor made the IPL a massive success.
“It remains to be seen how the [BCCI] board handles the IPL,” he said.
“There is bound to be a dent in perception and some apprehension on how it can be sustained but the structure is in place, as are the players, the franchises, the sponsors, the venues,” Memon said.
“The litmus test will be the players’ auction. If the BCCI can pass that one, it should be a smooth ride after that. But the IPL will not be the same again,” he said.
Already various state associations are clamoring to organize IPL matches themselves, instead of leaving it to tournament officials.
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