Rise & fall of Modi


The fall was as swift as the rise. Lalit Modi, the mastermind of the ritzy Indian Premier League, is now a persona non grata in Indian cricket. People called him the Bernie Ecclestone of the IPL for being brash, flamboyant and ambitious. Modi was credited with revolutionising T20 cricket by creating a potent brand that was in tune with changing times. Among the powers that be in the world’s richest body, he is now a much-maligned figure.
It was during his time as vice-president of the BCCI and chairman of the Board’s marketing sub-committee that Modi engineered the money-spinning IPL which not only went on to captivate the cricket-crazy country but also strengthened BCCI’s stranglehold on world cricket. During his five-year tenure, Modi raised BCCI’s revenues from $60 million to $8 billion.
While his rapid growth intimidated some of the senior members of the BCCI, a couple of administrators told this newspaper that Modi had to blame himself for his downfall. “He shot himself in the foot. Modi was on good terms with N. Srinivasan and other key members of the BCCI until his over-ambitious plans and indiscipline brought disrepute to the Board. He bypassed the Board hierarchy and took decisions on his own. He rubbed a lot of members on the wrong side. His Twitter tirades didn’t help his cause either,” said an official from the south zone.
Born with a silver spoon, Modi spent his formative years in the United States where the franchise-based National Basketball Association is a rage. With his sports marketing background, he successfully reproduced the franchise model in India.
For the net-savvy Modi, social networking sites proved to be a double-edged sword. When he declared the stakeholders of the Kochi IPL team in 2010, breaching the confidentiality clause of franchisee agreements, all hell broke loose eventually leading to the resignation of Shashi Tharoor, then a minister of state in the union cabinet.
BCCI’s decision to slap a life ban is not the end of the road for Modi. Like in politics, there are no eternal enemies in BCCI. Jagmohan Dalmiya’s return to cricket administration after being dismissed from the Board for misappropriation of funds allocated for the 1996 World Cup is a case in point. Sharad Pawar was at the helm when BCCI amended its constitution to pave the way for Srinivasan to own an IPL franchise. Now, the two are at daggers drawn. That’s cricket administration for you.

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