New Delhi: In yet another attempt to salvage the second season of the Indian Premier League, or IPL, the popular 20-over cricket series, its organizers on Tuesday submitted a revised match schedule to the Union home ministry for security clearance. Two earlier schedules were rejected by the ministry on 13 March and 17 March. “We have received a new schedule from the IPL organizers today and have sent it to states for their view,” a home ministry spokesperson said.
The league had to alter its original schedule after Union home minister P. Chidambaram raised security concerns following the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Pakistan this month. The fact that some IPL matches would be played on the same days as voting for the general election would lead to overburdened police and paramilitary forces, which would need to be on duty for both events.
Elections for the Lok Sabha will take place across the country in five different phases between 16 April and 13 May, while IPL was originally scheduled to be held from 10 April to 24 May.
IPL organizers and partners could face Rs1,000 crore of losses in case the league is postponed, according to estimates put together by Mint.
In the other development that could jeopardize the fate of the second IPL season, the Bombay high court on Tuesday reserved its order on a petition filed by IPL’s broadcast partner Multiscreen Media Pvt. Ltd (MSMPL), and restrained IPL’s governing body, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), from entering into any new agreements for the broadcast of the event.
MSMPL took BCCI to court after the board allegedly signed a fresh agreement for IPL’s media rights with the World Sports Group, or WSG, and scrapped the original deal. The new deal signed between the two partners rendered the broadcast agreement with MSMSPL “annulled”, said a person close to the development. He did not want to be identified because the matter was being heard in the court.
WSG had bought the global media rights for IPL for 10 years for $1.03 billion (about Rs5,285 crore) and, in turn, had sold the broadcast rights for the Indian market, the biggest market for cricket globally in terms of viewership and advertising, to MSMPL for Rs300 crore for five years.
Relationship between MSMPL and IPL organizers soured around a month ago, when IPL lost a lucrative ground sponsorship deal worth Rs137 crore offered by Reliance Dhirubhia Ambani Group (R-Adag) for its direct-to-home service. R-Adag walked out of the deal with IPL because MSMPL had signed its rival Airtel Digital TV, the DTH service arm of telecom company Bharti Airtel Ltd, as an on-air sponsor.
This deal, according to both IPL organizers and R-Adag, was signed in violation of IPL guidelines which require the first right of refusal for on-air sponsorship to go to the ground sponsor. While MSMPL said it had offered the deal to R-Adag first, the latter alleged that the deal was too expensive and whereas later, it was offered to Airtel DTH at much cheaper rates.
After R-Adag walked out of the deal, IPL asked MSMPL to compensate it for the loss of Rs137 crore and, according to media buyers involved in negotiations with the two parties and an executive from IPL, MSMPL had agreed to the proposal.
Meanwhile, MSMPL’s then-CEO Kunal Dasgupta resigned on 19 February and some senior executives also left the organization over the next few days.
A person close to the latest development said that the new MSMPL management met with IPL organizers 10 days ago and refused to honour the Rs137 crore commitment. “This infuriated them (IPL organizers) and the deal was called off,” he said, not wanting to be named. This assertion, however, could not be confirmed independently with BCCI or MSMPL.
Meanwhile, hearing the case on Tuesday, the high court said that till the order is pronounced, BCCI shall not enter into any new agreements on broadcast rights.
“I really can’t discuss anything on the IPL front,” said Rohit Gupta, president, network sales for MSMPL.
Lalit Modi, chairman and commissioner of IPL, and Sundar Raman, chief executive of IPL, did not respond to phone calls.
According to another senior BCCI executive who did not want to be identified, “There were many issues with Sony which got escalated after the breach in contract with the Reliance DTH (direct-to-home) and Airtel DTH deal. We also had a similar issues with them with the Coke-Pepsi deal last year as well as other small problems like them not showing the complete over and cutting to ad breaks.”
MSMPL has already generated at least Rs130 crore from sponsors such as Hyundai Motor India Ltd, Vodafone Group Plc., Citibank, Godrej Appliances Ltd and Coca-Cola Co., for the series. Besides, it has also raised around Rs150 crore in different spot deals with other advertisers.