The IPL, a potential $7 billion modern business brand in sport, has propelled the Indian national game of Cricket into taking a quantum leap from the era of the begging bowl to a world of riches beyond imagination.
The debate whether the star studded Indian Premier League is a money making business can be viewed as two sides of the same coin. In India people feel for cricket, see cricket as a religion, and so much hype is created by the IPL but one question, amidst all the hype, that fans have is “IS IPL ALL ABOUT MONEY”? As far as I am concerned, yes it is.
The IPL started right after India won the world Twenty 20 tournament and from the corporate world’s czars to the “Badshahs” of Bollywood all joined in. The team bidding process reached a level which justified the P for Premier in the IPL.
The IPL started in the year 2008 and was seen as an invention, a revolution and an innovation which stormed the world through its unprecedented success and getting parity with the EPL in terms of money involved. Its success was attributed to Lalit Modi who single handedly managed the affairs. He even dared to take IPL to South Africa when in 2009 due to elections and security concerns, government ordered that the IPL cannot be hosted in the country. He glamourized this event by involving big business houses, Bollywood celebrities and big cricketers.
With all this glamour there came controversies. Soon after the third edition two new teams were added, their combined price rising to a whopping $700 million. This led to the debate where did the money come from. Lalit Mode became involved in a verbal argument with Shahi Tharoor regarding shareholders in the Kochi Team which led to his downfall. He tweeted on the social media platform and wrote “Who are the shareholders of Rendezvous Sports- the buyer of one of the teams in the auction. And why have they been given this 100s of million dollar bonanza”? This raised suspicions among all people and the government started inquiring about the money laundering.
Among all these there came the player auctions for the 4th edition and now there was even bigger amounts of money involved than the previous three edition player auctions. An Indian player was bought for 2.4 million USD. Others players too got prices in that margin. The players earned enough money during the IPL which they were not able to earn even by playing years for their national teams. This particularly led to some controversies between the players and their respective boards. Players over the world started choosing to play for the IPL rather than playing for their countries as their boards could not afford such high payments. For the long run, this is not good for cricket, as it diverts players towards club culture while simultaneously affecting their as well as public’s interest in Test Cricket.
With cricket becoming fast paced, people getting attracted towards the shorter versions and players getting huge sums of money for 4 hour commitments, the question that should be raised is “WHERE IS THE CRICKET HEADING TOWARDS”?