In Perpetuity League- Peter Frawley

By iSportconnect | September 21, 2012

It is with a certain ironic twist that Kevin Pietersen (referenced as KP hereafter) is out of England’s tour to India, the home of the IPL, which is the primary source of discord when all is said and done between KP
and his paymasters at the ECB.

That the BCCI’s IPL project can cause such discord within the camp of an international adversary will no doubt be a source of secondary satisfaction to its administrators, particularly after last summer’s whitewash in all formats of the game in England.

I commented a couple of weeks back within the iSportconnect site that the IPL is here to stay for the foreseeable future which, to all intents and purposes, looks to be true. It would seem that the ECB stands alone as a final obstacle to the IPL – now in its sixth season – having a full deck of support for its growth and annual place in the global cricket calendar.

The ICC T20 World Cup is underway in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lanka and Bangladesh cricket boards wish to emulate the IPL with big domestic tournaments of their own and the Cricket Australia T20 gets a big
rebrand (and wish to chase KP for their own purposes). There is talk of a T20 event on the drawing board in the USA next spring in partnership with New Zealand Cricket.

However, an interesting piece by Kunal Pradhan this week in India’s ‘Pune Mirror’, throws an analytical spotlight on the sustainability of the IPL in the face of the global slowdown. Entitled ‘Indian non-Profitable League’, Mr. Pradhan points out that the list of troubled franchises seems to grow with every passing month. To quote: “…one team (Kochi Tuskers) has been disbanded, one (Deccan Chargers) has been dismissed pending a High Court ruling, two (Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals) are desperately seeking buyers, two (Royal Challengers Bangalore and Pune Warriors) are embroiled in company-level
crises stemming from debts and litigation, and one (Delhi Daredevils) is starting to feel the pinch because its parent firm has been hit by the economic slowdown in the real-estate sector.

Another leading real-estate company, which supposedly owned India’s finest commercial property as the IPL’s title sponsor, has refused to extend its contract.”

The key problem here is that, as Pradhan points out, the IPL never had a single self-sustaining business model, but ten different ones. One for each team.

Lalit Modi, who once declared the IPL recession-proof, now sits in exile in London. What could once be written off within the marketing budget of the big brand holding companies is now seen as an excess.

Vijay Mallya’s (India’s very own Richard Branson and a high-profile IPL franchise owner) airline Kingfisher is in deep doo-dah over unpaid taxes.
None of this should undermine the fact that the IPL has proved to be top cricket entertainment so far.

However, the question that sits up is this: Should the governing body of this global sport be backing in any way – for example by tampering with international cricket schedules – a private, commercial venture that could turn out to be a house of cards?

A Test Series scheduled between the West Indies and Sri Lanka for next April has been abandoned to accommodate IPL-drafted players from both teams to play in next seasons IPL. The BCCI has of course stepped in and offered to play the other two in a triangular series in the Windies by way of compensation. What this says about the current status of the players themselves through all this remains to be seen.

Might it just be that the ECB’s obstinacy, through either design, purpose or just by complete shambolic accident may yet provide an ‘I told you so’ moment? If so, KP really might want to have another think about which path to follow at this fork in the road.


Peter Frawley: After a law degree read at the University of Kent at Canterbury, Peter worked in the sales and marketing side of the international business and academic publishing sector including time at Macmillan and Thomson where he was on the Board as Sales and Marketing Director. Following a full-time MBA at Henley Management College, he briefly entered the strategic digital consultancy world before deciding that the sports business was where he wanted to be. As a lover of most things sporting, Peter has focused on the business of cricket through the company International Cricket Group which focuses on development consultancy and events.

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