Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tharoor Out, Modi Fired, IPL ‘Saved’, But What About BCCI, Betting, & Match Fixing?

Subhash Chandra must be a happy man. One innocent wedding rumour in DNA, and the IPL castle of cards comes down swiftly. Too bad that it tripped a naïve Tharoor, but too good that it took down Modi with it.

Also Read: 10 Questions Shashi Tharoor Must Answer to Come Clean

BCCI had been that unfair to Chandra’s Zee. Despite winning the telecast rights fair and square thrice, BCCI had rejected Zee’s tender, prompting the otherwise prudent billionaire to hastily create an alternative, the forgettable Indian Cricket League (ICL).

But really ICL was not a bad idea at all. But Chandra hadn’t counted on the might of that special muscle called the official muscle. Not only was BCCI the only official power, but it was the only power to determine who can be the official power. When it decided that Lalit Modi’s baby, IPL, can be official, it became so. Last week when it decided this was not to be, the (now fat) baby remained official, but Modi went through the window.

Now what will Chandra do? Time is fit for reviving ICL. During his last public outburst, Punit Goenka had complained that BCCI was threatening even the advertisers of ICL. Now is the time a court case against such threats will get patient ears.

But who will head such a reinvented ICL? Hey, isn’t the world’s Best Twenty20 Commissioner available? If the Congress bigwigs are not willing to upset the applecart by going all out against Pawar and NCP, Modi should survive as a legally available and hireable CEO.

And seriously, for all the brickbats he received, there is no doubt Lalit Modi will remain the most productive Cricket Commissioner ever.

If you didn’t like the way he did his business, that is your problem, not his. KK Modi explained this succinctly. His younger son too has this style of functioning, says Modi. In other words, it was, and is, the Modi way of doing business.

Never mind that this style was which that brought down this once-highflying business family’s name from among peers like the Tatas and Birlas. Too clever, too aggressive, and too secretive, the Modi clan flourished during the Licence Raj, but started floundering after the liberalization drive of the 90s. Many Modis became blacklisted by the bankers, who thronged to serve the cunning-yet-neat entrepreneurs of the new India, the Ambanis, the Murthys, and of course, the Tatas who excelled in reinventing themselves for the times.

But who cares? Not the least the Modis. Just KK Modi’s empire is worth more than 3500 crore. So, what if you can’t write software, drill oil, or create a Nano? There will always be evergreen businesses like cigarettes, and new opportunities like Fashion TV and online lotteries. All of them perfectly legal, if not that respectable.

Alembic shares shot up around 5% when Chirayu Amin was made the new Commissioner. What for? Is the theoretically super-efficient market determining that somehow the pharma company will gain from its CMD becoming the IPL Commissioner? Remember, it is the same market that punished the bluest blue-chips like TCS & Reliance for coming up with very good results, just a few days back! So much for the theory that the market takes into account everything.

John Paulson definitely was one man who didn’t believe that the markets were super efficient. ‘The Man Who Made Too Much’ is already the eye of the new financial storm crashing stock-markets around the world. But sadly, the crisis itself is not named after him, but on Goldman Sachs. Because, yet again, you find the typical new-age entrepreneur – unbelievably cunning yet unbelievably difficult to legally pin down.

The good man he is, Chirayu Amin is learnt to be averse to after-match IPL parties and cheerleaders, as they are anti-Indian. BCCI seems to have finally concluded that girls lifting their legs to reveal their crotches was not really an innovation, but used to be always there in Mumbai, along some suburban lines, and was called whoring, not cheerleading.

In any case, it is great that Modi’s original innovation of after-match parties will come to an end. After the arrest of Madhuri ‘Spy’ Gupta, nobody can be blamed for suspecting that Pakistan had invented and implemented the IPL parties to finish off our youthful blood like Yuvaraj and Dhoni. Such was their ardour off-ground says those who attended Modi’s parties by paying Rs. 50,000 a night or Rs. 22 lakhs for all nights.

Anyway, no need really for the parties. If Bhajii can hug and lift off Nita Ambani on ground, the after-parties are really an overkill.

Dhoni and Gary Kirsten, meanwhile, have also turned suave diplomats. Clearly respecting the newfound powers of BossCCI, they took the ‘What Fatigue’ line before boarding for the World Cup. But expect fatigue to return as the all important reason, if and when India gets thrown out of the tournament. Of course, we can blame that too on Modi.

Anyway, the best advice for Indian cricket came from an unexpected source, Bal Thackeray. He wanted BCCI to select a former player like Gavaskar or Shastri to replace Modi. Coming from him, the advice had his untainted love for the native Mumbaikar written all over it, but he does have a point, with most of the national cricketing associations that make up the ICC having former celebrity players as their Chairman or CEO.

In contrast, what has Sharad Pawar, Arun Jaitley, & Farooq Abdullah got to do with cricket? Another storm is brewing regarding free equity to the tune of 5-10% given by all IPL franchisees to political and administrative powers-that-be of Indian Cricket.

Indian Cricket is now a too dangerous place for even them as the betting saga behind IPL unveils fully. The madly betting segment among the cricket enthusiasts is now mad at how the bookies turned the tables on those who bet for CSK’s win in the final. Investigating agencies, according to some sources, have gathered evidence that this round of IPL has produced $11 billion in betting money from the 60 matches, each of them doctored in favour of the bookies. And believe it or not, there seems to be evidence that the massive betting league was masterminded from Karachi by none other than D.

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