Saturday, July 12, 2008

IPL Mixes Business, Money, Entertainment and Sports

International cricket megastars with large paychecks to match their egos, Bollywood's elite actors, big business magnates, provocatively dressed cheerleaders, the big sports media, huge worldwide audience, deep pocket sponsors all come together to put on spectacular three hour, 2020 games of the two newly formed Indian cricketing leagues.

This is a revolution in the world of cricket, a sleepy, colonial era, gentleman's game that the British brought to their colonies including India and Pakistan. Taking a leaf from the sports leagues in US and Europe, it represents a coming of age for the business of sports in India. According to the New York Times, the Indian billionaires are for the first time staking their prestige on sports teams. The Indian Premier League’s most expensive franchise, at nearly $111.9 million, is the Mumbai Indians, fittingly owned by India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani. The flamboyant liquor baron Vijay Mallya picked up the Bangalore-based Royal Challengers for $111.6 million, and the actor Shah Rukh Khan is backing the Kolkata Knight Riders for $75.09 million.



Forbes magazine reports that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), a nonprofit body controlling the game in the country, has racked up $1 billion to date from selling commercial rights to Indian cricket for the next five years. (One source: Nike paid $45 million to flash its logo on players' apparel and to sell garments to cricket fans.) "It's all about extracting the most value," said Lalit Modi, BCCI's new marketing chief, who hopes to eventually make $1.5 billion from Indian cricket, ten times what BCCI made in the last go-around.

IPL offered contracts to several Pakistani players including Shoaib Malik, Shoaib Akhtar, Muhammad Asif, Shahid Afridi, Younis Khan, Muhammad Yousaf and Inzamam ul Haq.

According to the BBC, the players were offered to the franchisees in an auction process. Australia captain Ponting is among 13 of his compatriots in a pool of international cricketers available to the franchises, which were allowed to spend a maximum of $5m on eight contracted players. There have been recent reports that several top Australian players have been promised the IPL's salary cap will be axed in the future. The biggest stars could then expect IPL contracts of about $15 million. Australian captain Ricky Ponting has opposed this move. "I have certainly heard there may be no salary cap next year but I'm not sure if that will be good for the IPL," Ponting told Australia's Courier Mail. "The more I've thought about it, it might be detrimental to the whole set-up.

The winning bids, which were selected electronically in a sealed room, offered Pakistani players as follows: Shoaib Akhtar $425,000, Younis Khan $225,000, Kamran Akmal $150,000 and Umar Gul $150,000. These amounts are several times larger than the current compensation they receive from PCB.

According to BBC Sports, IPL's top 10 winning auction bids in February were:

Mahendra Dhoni: $1.5m (Chennai)
Andrew Symonds: $1.35m (Hyderabad)
Sanath Jayasuriya: $975,000 (Mumbai)
Ishant Sharma: $950,000 (Kolkata)
Irfan Pathan: $925,000 (Mohali)
Brett Lee : $900,000 (Mohali)
Jacques Kallis: $900,000 (Bangalore)
RP Singh: $875,000 (Hyderabad)
Harbhajan Singh: $850,000 (Mumbai)
Chris Gayle: $800,000 (Kolkata)

7 comments:

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Riaz Haq said...

Following a row between Sashi Tharoor and Lalit Modi, there have been allegation of money laundering via IPL franchises in India. Here's a BBC report:

India has ordered an investigation into the financing of the Indian Premier League (IPL) following allegations of corruption in the cricket tournament.

The move follows the resignation of junior foreign minister Shashi Tharoor amid controversy over his role in bidding for one of the IPL's new teams.

India's finance minister said "no wrong-doer would be spared" in the probe into the league's funding.

But IPL chief Lalit Modi denies any allegations of funding irregularities.

Mr Modi has described the claims as "absolutely baseless".

Opposition lawmakers in parliament have alleged that the league has been used for money laundering and illegal betting.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told parliament that tax authorities had already begun an investigation.

"All aspects including sources of funding and routes through which the funds arrived would be looked into," he said.

Indian cricket's governing body also said it would meet to discuss the allegations against the tournament.

Media reports suggest there are plans to force Lalit Modi from his office.

The IPL has become a multi-billion dollar industry, which attracts some of India's wealthiest businessmen and women.

Cricket's popularity with the Indian masses means that politicians are also keen to get involved with the sport, BBC correspondents say.

Public spat

Mr Tharoor resigned on Sunday after a row over allegations that a female friend, Dubai-based businesswoman Sunanda Pushkar, received a free stake in a new IPL franchise.

He denies any wrongdoing in the bid for the new Kochi cricket team, to be based in his home state of Kerala.

Mr Tharoor claimed he was just a mentor for the team and denied allegations that he was set to benefit financially.

He and Ms Pushkar say the stake was awarded as "sweat equity" in return for marketing and professional services to the new franchise - but Ms Pushkar has now offered to surrender the stake.

His resignation followed a public spat between Lalit Modi, the head of the IPL, and Mr Tharoor over ownership of the new cricket team for Kochi.

Kochi was sold to Rendezvous Sports World Limited for $333m at auction. It and Pune are to join the IPL from 2011, taking the total number of teams to 10.

Meanwhile in Bangalore, officials are angry that this week's semi-finals have been moved to Mumbai for security reasons.

Politicians and police in the city say they were not consulted about the move, which followed two small bombs before a game on Saturday.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC commentary on Lalit Modi's rise and fall:

Lalit Modi is the biggest sporting impresario India has ever produced - cricket's answer to Don King of boxing or Bernie Ecclestone of Formula One.

More than a decade ago, Modi helped international sports channel ESPN win the rights to broadcast cricket matches in India, where state TV had until then had a monopoly.

Years later, he shaped the hugely successful and lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) with all its colour and razzmatazz.

But today, the IPL guru is mired in allegations of money laundering, improperly awarding franchises for new teams and, worse, possible match-fixing.

'Trial by media'

Modi, 46, maintains he has done nothing wrong.

"It is a trial by the media, nothing has been proved," he told a jam-packed DY Patil stadium in Mumbai (Bombay) on Sunday night, seconds after Chennai Super Kings had won the third edition of the IPL.

The Indian government inquiry will take months, probably years - but that Modi is down and out from the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI), the world's richest cricket board, is amply clear.

In just a few years Lalit Modi turned the IPL into a $4.13bn commercial phenomenon that Forbes called the world's fastest growing sporting event. It attracted business tycoons and Bollywood stars, but cricket watchers say he rarely followed the rules.

He decided almost anything and everything that happened within the IPL.

Lalit Modi studied for a sports management degree at North Carolina's Duke University Business School in the United States.

While a student there he was convicted of kidnapping and assault.

A spokeswoman for the North Carolina courts told the BBC that Modi received a two-year suspended jail sentence and a $10,000 fine in June 1985 after entering a plea bargain.

Armed with his degree, Modi later returned to India to introduce the magic of ESPN's high-voltage cricket coverage.

He also handled global brands like Estee Lauder and Phillip Morris, and was instrumental in bringing Fashion TV to India. A scion of the multi-millionaire family which owns Modi Enterprises, he is also a member of the board of Godfrey Philips, a top Indian tobacco company.

Modi - who owns a private jet and a yacht - always wanted to live life king size, a popular marketing tag for one of his cigarette brands.

Ever the showman, he arrived at the ground in Mumbai for the IPL final in a helicopter. Some have called him the man with the Midas touch.

He flaunts his power by moving around with a phalanx of private bodyguards, the first sports official in India to do so. His aides say there are threats to his life because of his high profile.

Lalit Modi likes the high life, combining cricket with entertainment. Guests paid up to $1,000 to attend his after-match parties where they could mingle with cricketers, starlets and models.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's are some excerpts from an interesting Op Ed by Aakar Patel on cricket:

It is thought that India loves cricket. This is incorrect. India loves India. Cricket gives us the opportunity to express this affection. The local cricket match in India is unattended. Even World Cup matches featuring two other sides will be played without spectators, no matter what the calibre of the players. This is unlike World Cup football, or American football and basketball. What attracts Indian spectators isn’t cricket the sport in that sense.
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One unique thing is how Indian spectators are silent when the other team scores. On television it’s as if the screen has gone mute. It’s not about enjoying a sport and appreciating the ability of professionals to play it. It’s about nationalism, which in India is narrow and zero-sum. If they score even a little victory, a boundary, our tumescence droops. The Bengali thinks he’s different, but this is untrue. Imminent defeat against the Lankans in 1996’s World Cup resulted in Kolkatans rioting in Eden Gardens, and, as Indians tend to do, damaging the property that they could barely afford.

The Indian team is overrated because our fierce nationalism inflates its capacity. This has been amplified recently because of our economic power. Ten years ago, opponents thought little of us, and rightly. Against the quality team, India’s record is to fold. We regularly get a thrashing from Australia (won 36, lost 61), old enemy Pakistan (47:69), and newcomers South Africa (24:40). Even West Indies, 25 years in decline, have a superior record (39:54).

Usually, Indians are happy if their team wins the skirmish and loses the battle. This is because national honour is often safeguarded by the hero. The astute Ian Chappell noticed that Indians were content if Sachin Tendulkar scored his hundred even if India then lost. In Australia, this would never happen, he said, and it would be seen as defeat, which it is. Since his audience telegraphs this, the Indian cricketer plays for himself much more than players of other sides. An analysis of Tendulkar’s scoring pattern between 90 and 100 will be interesting.
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The Indian is deeply prejudiced against Africans and black players have always been targeted (some will be offended by this sweeping allegation. I am open to the suggestion that the Indian is an equal-opportunity vandal). A bottle hit Vasbert Drakes at Rajkot in 2002. This sort of thing has now stopped. Why? Because Indian spectators are watched over, like inmates.

On all Indian grounds, a wire mesh now separates players from the unpredictable Indian audience. This is shameful, but passes unnoticed in our culture. In Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, West Indies and England, this isn’t needed.
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Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri are second rate: no lucidity, little insight and speaking only in stock phrase and cliche. In Shastri’s case, this is often incorrect cliche: “You can be rest assured...” Sanjay Manjrekar is better and so, though more evidence is needed, is Sourav Ganguly.

Navjot Singh Sidhu is original, and perfect for Indians. He’s Wodehousian, spouting rubbish with an air of magnificence. A sort of developing world’s Psmith. It is why he’s so popular with us, because the equation is: content < spectacle. Harsha Bhogle works on his language, and is committed enough to wear a hairpiece, but he’s fluffy and boring—a unique double whammy. If we must have fluff, I prefer Mandira Bedi. Lovely body and she puts it on display well.
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For Indian players this has meant more cash—vast sums from advertising. For Indian spectators it has meant more advertising. Advertisements between overs, advertisements between balls. Intrusive, invasive, relentless, shameless flogging. Strokes renamed by sponsors, sixes renamed after sponsors. Such vulgarity is not off-putting to Indians, which is why it continues and has increased in time.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's BBC's Soutik Biswas on falling IPL ratings:

If TV ratings figures are to be believed, fans have had enough of cricket despite the nine-team, 76-match, seven-week Twenty20 tourney.

Viewer ratings were down 18.7% in the first six games - a time when interest in the tournament traditionally peaks - compared with the same period last year.

That's not all. Season V began on a wrong note with a tawdry Bollywood song-and-dance opening show which even appears to have put off fans. Two top sponsors have withdrawn. Brand and communication consultants are warning that the IPL brand is in "choppy waters", and the league needs a "stronger game plan to rejuvenate the brand". One brand consultancy firm has downgraded the league's value to $3.67bn, down 11% from 2010.

Remember, the response to IPL Season IV last year was lukewarm. TV ratings dropped by 29% and even the final met a tepid response. Cricket fans were savouring India's spectacular win in the World Cup which preceded the tournament, and had little appetite for more cricket.

Why is the thrill gone this year - at least in the early stages of the tournament? After all, this is the tournament which combines the sublime (sledgehammer batting, close finishes) and the ridiculous (Bollywood entertainment, cheerleaders, "strategic time outs" in the middle of the games to facilitate advertising breaks). Indians love tamasha (entertainment), and the IPL is still the best tamasha on offer.

For one, after the song and dances are over, it's finally all about cricket. India is still licking its wounds after a nightmarish international season in which it lost eight overseas Test matches on the trot - its worst run since the 1960s. Though Sachin Tendulkar's 100th international hundred in Dhaka last month was a welcome diversion, India failed to pick up the Asia Cup. Don't disrespect the fan, Rahul Dravid eloquently said at last year's Bradman Oration, and to expect fans to flock to cheer non-performing cricketers at the highest level is a bit fey.

Also, Indian stars are the league's biggest draw, and most of them have been performing indifferently or are absent in the ongoing edition. Tendulkar is hurt after the first game, and Sehwag and Dhoni, two big hitters, haven't fired yet. VVS Laxman isn't playing this season. Yuvraj Singh is recovering from cancer and is out of the game for a while. Saurav Ganguly's batting is past its sell-by date. Rahul Dravid is playing a post-retirement nostalgia gig. Yusuf Pathan, a Twenty20 star, has fizzled out. When the stars are largely down and out, fans stay away.

Fans also seem to be confused about whom to support. The IPL is a city-based league aiming to build up fan bases in half-a-dozen big Indian cities. But when Calcutta's icon Saurav Ganguly, Delhi's favourite Gautam Gambhir and Bangalore's biggest star Rahul Dravid end up leading the teams of Pune, Calcutta and Rajasthan, fan loyalties to home teams can begin to fray easily.

Interest will possibly pick up during the knockouts and the final at the fag end of the league. It may even pick up with more high-scoring games, edge-of-the-seat finishes, and big-bang batting by the stars.

But authorities simply cannot afford to let the IPL crash.

Listen to Sharda Ugra, India's top cricket writer, and you know why. "The IPL has now become a key component of world cricket's economy," she writes. "If it falters and fails because it is not alert to the audience climate around it, the domino effect around the cricket world will be damaging. Cricket's superstar status in many parts of its empire will be downgraded from club class to cattle class - all holy cows included."


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-17699415

Riaz Haq said...

Here are two stories on Pakistan Super League:

Haroon Lorgat, the former International Cricket Council boss who is now a consultant for the Pakistan Cricket Board’s new Twenty20 league, feels it has got huge potential and will attract top foreign players to participate in the event soon.

In an exclusive interview to Gulf News, Lorgat, who stopped over in Dubai after launching the logo of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in Lahore, said: “There is a lot of potential for the PSL. We all know that Twenty20 cricket is now a reality and professional cricket in the form of franchise-based models is now common and people understand it. So professional leagues will develop and Pakistan, which has some 180 million people, are very passionate for the game of cricket. They have amazing talent within the country and the response I have seen for this league has even excited me.”

Lorgat, who was the Chief Executive of ICC during a crucial phase, strongly believes that foreign players will return to play in Pakistan.

“Foreign players should come to play in Pakistan. We all know the negative perceptions about safety and security. It is something which is real and the PCB will put in place a security plan to deal with the risks and perceptions. The enquiries received from some very good foreign international players to play in the league are extremely encouraging. If I look at what has already been confirmed and what is in the pipeline, it bodes well. I hope some of the real super stars too will consider though I do understand that it will be up to each individual to decide. I have been to Pakistan a number of times recently and Lahore is quite a normal place. Cricket goes on there and I know that Pakistan will put appropriate safety and security measures in place.”

--

Answering to a query why Pakistan players are good Twenty20 players and whether it has to do with their physique or skill, Lorgat said: “It is a combination of a number of things. They certainly have serious talent and skill. We all know how often Pakistan select new players that thrills the world. They appear to work a lot harder these days and I have seen their academy which is very impressive. They have good process in place to develop their players, their disciplines have also improved and with their skills they will always produce match winners. “


http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/sports/16-Jan-2013/pakistan-super-league-has-potential-says-haroon-lorgat

The Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) plans of involving international cricketers in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) are likely to get a boost after some Australian players, who took part in the Sri Lankan Premier League (SLPL), indicated that they would like to be a part of the event.

It has been learnt that the Pakistani players, who were part of the SLPL, tried convincing foreign players to participate in the PSL and received an encouraging response from them. The Australians part of SLPL included Brad Hodge, Clint McKay, Dirk Nannes and Adam Voges among others.

“Australian players have shown interest in the PSL,” a PCB official told The Express Tribune. “They were receiving $20,000-$35,000 in SLPL and with an opportunity of earning up to $100,000 in Pakistan, we’re hopeful it will be an attractive enough proposition for them. Their presence would be vital to our pursuit of the revival of international cricket in Pakistan.”

The official was hopeful that a successfully executed PSL would help them to host international matches in Pakistan.

“We need to set a precedent through the PSL that Pakistan is safe for sports and it won’t be difficult in convincing teams to play here as it’s right now.”
...


http://tribune.com.pk/story/494429/pakistan-super-league-players-contacts-will-help-get-more-stars/