It’s the third edition of the Indian Premier League and, by now, the only thing predictable about the tournament is the uncertainty.
Last year, we went through the will-it-be-held-in-India-or-not trauma. While the tournament finally did take place and it seemed like a happily-ever-after ending, one can only imagine the stress that various stakeholders went through.
Excitement seems to be something Lalit Modi can guarantee.
The ongoing face off between news broadcasters and the IPL is this year’s tranche of excitement. As we go to print, 34 news channels have decided that they will not accept the unilateral decisions taken on the media accreditation guidelines.
Advertisers, team owners and manufacturers of merchandise, to name just three stakeholders, will now be chewing their nails wondering about the loss of buzz that could result as a result of this development in the event there is no resolution. The PR consultants and agencies and image consultants would be at their wit’s ends as they wait for the drama to play out.
To complicate the issue, we have Lalit Modi announcing that ‘home’ matches of the Deccan Chargers would not, amazingly, be played at home, but in a neighbouring state. A few hours later, he announces a reversal of the announcement.
And then we have the issues that Lalit Modi has no control over, such as the recommendation by the English players association that India is not safe for players to travel to. Similarly, Shane Warne says that he is not sure of the security aspect.
Lalit Modi has no control over, did I say?
He had a lot of control over both these issues. His highhandedness in not sharing security contingency plans with the players and their country associations would certainly have fuelled the fire.
For whatever the reasons, Lalit Modi and the IPL seem to succeed in regularly upsetting various stakeholders – and this cannot be good for brand IPL in the long run.
We are now too close to the tournament for any meaningful discussions to take place, but it is certainly time that the franchisees took a long, hard look at the uncertainty of the investments in the IPL and the causes thereof.
There is too much money at stake for the decisions to be unilateral and arrived at without intense debate and deliberation.
Perhaps the answer is for the franchise owners to have a seat at the table that they do not currently seem to have a seat at – the IPL organising committee. They need to have a say on issues such as security, such as media guidelines, such as venues, such as media relationships.
They cannot learn of developments in the IPL – a product they have made considerable investments in – from the press conferences and press releases that are issued from time to time.
If the IPL is modelled on the English Premier League, let the IPL go all the way. Premiership clubs have a voice – a very loud voice – in all the major decisions that are taken. If the powers that be decide to explore, as they are doing now, changes in the qualification to the Champions League, they listen to the opinions of club owners.
For the IPL to become world class, the thinking needs to be world class as well – and not limited to the whims and fancies of one man.