New Delhi:In an exclusive interview to Mihir Bose, Lalit Modi said he has done nothing wrong and will return to India when he feels safe. The transcript of the interview:
Mihir Bose: Lalit, is this strange you're in London and you face some very serious charges in India? Allegations about your conduct as IPL Commissioner? India's just celebrated Diwali, what are you doing here?
Lalit Modi: Well I'm in London, I'm hoping that the enquiry that is going on in India will come to an end, we are answering all the questions that are required to be answered, we are doing some teleconferencing and we're providing the documentation that is needed to be provided to the authorities and to the different agencies that are conducting the investigation. And my security agencies have advised me that it's not appropriate time currently to go back till the security situation smoothens out. And the Indian police have continuously told me yes, that the threat perception continues to be there and as and when I feel comfortable with that factor I would go back.
Mihir Bose: But many people will find this strange that these threats on your life have emerged after you've been facing serious allegations.
Lalit Modi: Well I think that's again something that is being portrayed by the media, the media themselves know for a fact that way back in 2009 when I moved the IPL to South Africa the threats emerged, there was leads picked up and intelligence picked up by the police, I was given extensive security whilst in South Africa, on my return back to India, continuous security all the way through the current IPL and the threat escalated prior to the IPL, and my movements were pretty much restricted from where I could go and not go, it wasn't something that has come afterwards, it's quite visible on camera, it is quite visible in everywhere I went that the amount of security that I had around me was inhibited my, you know, movements in and around India.
Mihir Bose: But Lalit, you cannot deny the fact that the main charges against you are that you set up the IPL in order to benefit yourself and your family when probably Indian cricket did not need IPL at all.
Lalit Modi: Well you know, you may say Indian cricket did not need IPL, as far as...or I did x, y, z, to benefit x, y, z, you've got to keep in mind at the time when I conceived the IPL it was considered to be a pioneering project, it was a dream of mine, and it was something that I think the people of India needed and wanted, and as any pioneering initiative, a pioneer can go out there and get the gold, or most people who think they're going to be pioneers actually end up on the...on their backs, with arrows in their backs.
Mihir Bose: You say the pioneer takes the gold, but you took the gold and your son in law, your relatives took the gold because they were part of the bidding process.
Lalit Modi: When I conceived the IPL, at that point in time, you know, everybody thought it was a hair brained scheme, none of the existing traditional financiers for the sport or the game actually wanted to be part of the scheme, I couldn't exactly go to a hedge fund or to, you know, to anybody else and ask them to finance this, in fact wherever we went, and if you look back in the archives and you look back at history, you will find that actually nobody wanted to touch this. Domestic cricket was something that nobody believed in, domestic cricket was something that nobody watched, the only way we could take this forward is to bring friends and family, and friends and family are people who either believed in you or didn't believe in you, and if they believed in you they would go out and invest, I sold them a dream, I sold them my dream, and I said I would make it happen, and if I did not make them happen, they would be actually out there gunning for me before you would be, and because it's happened today, and it has become so successful, people are now pointing back and saying "oh you gave it to friends and family", where were all these people when we were conceiving the league.
Mihir Bose: But you were doing this on behalf of the Board of Control For Cricket in India, should you not have kept them informed of conflicts of interest? Should you not have told them "listen, nobody else is bidding, therefore my relations are bidding?"
Lalit Modi: One minute...
Mihir Bose: You surely failed your duty there.
Lalit Modi: Of course not, because as far as I'm concerned the bidding process was totally transparent, it was done through an international tender process, the people who paid were in the bidding room, they sat there, everybody knew who they were, they all signed on the dotted line, they took the tender, they took the documentation, so when somebody turns around and says that they didn't know about it it's absolutely a false story, they knew about it from day one, everybody and everybody, I mean everybody concerned from the governing council to the BCCI members, were very much present in the room, and in fact everybody was just happy at that point in time because we got eight bids, at the end of the day, and I mean they were extremely happy that they got eight bids.
Mihir Bose: So you did not subvert the bidding process? The auction process? Take the case of Rajasthan Royal, you signed an agreement with a company where Rajasthan Royal's name doesn't appear, the Jaipur Cricket 11 name appears.
Lalit Modi: Again, I think again you are confusing the fact of a brand, Rajasthan Royal, vis a vis a company Jaipur or Emerging Media, whatever that may be, the process you've got to understand is that at the time of the bidding we were moving so fast, nobody had companies set up, we are allowed, through the tender, It's actually in the tender process, we allowed prospective bidders to bid form new companies, new structures at that point in time, and gave them time or x number of months to set it up, and get their organisation structures in place. It was formally done, we had the best practices, we hired the best people, you know, we cut no corners, we had people like IMG who were scrutinising each and every document, in fact they were the back end legal people, in fact I don't go around negotiating papers or documents or drawing up agreements, those are the job of the lawyers, those are the job of the operating team. Yes, I signed them because I am the chairman when it comes to me for signature, and the process was put in place by us and we had the best in the world devising it, we cut no corners and we went out there to make sure that the work was done.
Mihir Bose: But did you not try to rig the latest bidding process? The Kochi one? Where you tried to stop them getting the franchise? Promote some other people, and you rigged that process?
Lalit Modi: For the first time I found that an agreement had been submitted by a party where they had a 25% sweat equity clause in there, and that clause, irrespective of the capitalisation was going to ask the other 75% shareholders to pay for losses over the next decade of decades. Now, for me it was very important to point out to the BCCI that this agreement is not going to fly because the people who were buying into it had no understanding of what they were getting into, and when I sat with all of them, and it's my job as chairman and commissioner to sit with each one of the perspective owners coming in, and explain to them the business of the IPL, it may look sexy, it may look fun, it may look, you know, you want to be out there with an owners badge and be sitting out there, at the end of the day it's business at the end of the day for them, and today you must support it for other various reasons, but sooner down the line it's going to become business and your accountant's going to tell you "guys you're going to be bankrupt" or "you've got to pump in more money".
Mihir Bose: But despite what you say about this, is it not the case that you brought these points up because you had two other fancied bidders, Videocon and Adani, that you wanted to win that bid?
Lalit Modi: I can't force anybody to go in and not to go in at the end of the day...
Mihir Bose: But you were rigging the process.
Lalit Modi: How do you rig the process? It's an open bid, it's a tender process, you put the tender in, highest person wins, if that was the case why did Adani not win? Why did Videocon not win? Sahara went and won it for 370 million because it was an open process. Kochi went and won. If it was going to be a rigged process they would have won. At the end of the day the people who put the maximum amount of money and safeguard the IPL and the BCCI go out and win, what we can do is only lay down the guidelines going forward, and anyway, any guidelines we do put down is approved and is made up by a whole lot of people, it's not done by me alone.
Mihir Bose: If you are not a cowboy you showed misjudgement in Tweeting about it, leading to the resignation of an Indian Minister and causing the Indian Prime Minister while he was in the White House grave embarrassment.
Lalit Modi: Well that wasn't intended, it happened, it wasn't intended to embarrass anybody. It was the intention of that to get the truth out there, it wasn't intended to ridicule, embarrass a minister or the government, I'm sorry that it happened, but at the end of the day you've got to understand that the events leading to Kochi are still sub judice in this matter and I don't want... I wouldn't like to at this point in time actually get into the nitty gritties and the details of what actually happened, I'm sure one day the truth will be out when the court system's finished with it.
Mihir Bose: You don't regret Tweeting?
Lalit Modi: No not at all.
Mihir Bose: You say the BCCI made money, but they also lost $80 million as a result of the television deal you allowed Sony and WSG Mauritius to make, which was a very, very costly thing.
Lalit Modi: Again I think people don't under... it's good to throw numbers like 80 million into the air, first and foremost let's just understand and be very clear of understanding this, that this is not how the business works, when we went out to market the rights of IPL you'd be surprised sitting here today, there was one bidder, and that one bidder was World Sports Group. Sony actually bid and withdrew their bid prior to the bids even opening. ESPN bid, but they'd put zero number on the table so that their bid was disqualified, they said "we didn't think this is going to work, we'll do a revenue share deal with you". The only company that actually put any money on the table above the minimum guarantee amount was World Sports Group in the round one, and that's...and then they did a back to back licensing deal with Sony. Now, what's the job of a marketing company which we all forget? A marketing company's job is to buy and sell rights, so if they bought a right that's close to $2 billion as an example and they sold it for two billion eighty to somebody as an example, and they made $80 million over a ten year period, what's wrong with that? I'm surprised they only made that kind of money. So first and foremost somebody came out there, took a risk, believed in the product, and of course if we had failed the BCCI would be sitting out there and saying oh you know, we have locked in our money and the World Sports Group will be going back crying and saying they'd lost a lot of money, so when you say that the World Sports Group were going to make $80 million over a 10 years period, I'm so happy that they're going to make $80 million over a 10 years period because they deserve it, they took the right...they took the risk with us at a point in time when nobody was ready to take the risk, they bought the rights, and they've...then they've gone out and further sold it to a third party.
Mihir Bose: The issue here is that the way you did the deal cost the BCCI possibly $80 million.
Lalit Modi: I think you're putting the question wrong, the way I did the deals, I made the BCCI billions of dollars, not cost them $80 million, let's talk about the amount of deals that I've done for the BCCI in 2005 since I've come in, prior to me coming in look at the results of the BCCI at that point in time, how much money they made, probably the BCCI a year would make $30, $40 million, to what, I changed the marketing structure, I changed the way we did business, where the BCCI today if you look at it has locked in contracts over six or seven billion dollars going forward, now this was done because of my learnings that I had in my previous jobs whether it was at Disney or with ESPN, and I looked at where the value lay, and I took the value that usually traditionally were kept by broadcasters or marketing companies and I applied those principles and took them to a federation and made the federation earn all the money, and I did that on my own time, at my own cost, and we keep talking about $80 million I made the BCCI...lost, what about the billions of dollars that I have made the BCCI?
Mihir Bose: Well I find this hard to understand, if you made so much for the BCCI and brought them such material success why have they turned against you? This seems incredible?
Lalit Modi: I agree, it seems incredible because I guess they didn't expect the IPL to succeed, number one, and as it has succeeded I don't think, you know, there's a lot of jealousy all around, and it was more than meets the eye, it's not only about the IPL it's about the running of the BCCI, there are, you know, vested groups out there trying to take control, and there is, you know, more to it, but I'd rather not get into that right now...
Mihir Bose: But you do not admit any character fault that this may have contributed? That you could not work with your colleagues?
Lalit Modi: I worked with my colleagues, I worked with a whole lot of my colleagues, every one that I worked with was very happy, and first and foremost every supplier of mine, every team owner of mine, every advertiser of mine, all the fans, all the boards that I worked with, extremely happy with the way I worked. Yes, some disgruntled people over there on the board, yes, but you know, I can't make everybody happy, you know, at the end of the day I have to go out and do what I have to do, I have to go out and deliver a product, and by the way, you are in the media business, has anybody ever done it anywhere else in the world? Ever? No, the question is no. Has anybody made a successful league out of nothing, ever? No, the question is no. Has anybody ever gone out and built a business model where everybody benefits from it? The question is...and the answer is no, nobody has. So once I have done it it's hit the limelight, it's hit the front pages of every newspaper, of course I've got the limelight, I've been awarded many awards and I have been...I mean talked about everywhere, it has upset some people, and at the end of the day I'm not there to please everybody, I can't please everybody and that's not my job, my job out there was to deliver a world class league that benefits everybody, benefits the players, can build the infrastructure, can go out there and, you know, with our heads high up to show to the world that yes we, modern India, can do it, and at the end of the day it was the people of India and the fans that...that helped me do it.
Mihir Bose: You said you've increased India's brand image worldwide, increased it's cricket image, improved it's relationship with other boards, but you seriously damaged it's relationship with the English Cricket Board, as a result of which you've considerably upset Giles Clarke.
Lalit Modi: You know, I would really like to talk a lot about that issue, but the matter is under due process and unfortunately you can't talk about it, but one day I guarantee you Mihir, I'll sit with you here and I'll tell you all about it.
Mihir Bose: But you don't seem to be accepting that at any point in this you're facing some very, very grave charges that you made any mistakes?
Lalit Modi: You've got to understand, I did things when nobody had done those kind of things, of course we may have made mistakes along the way, I'm not saying we made a lot of mistakes, we had hired the best people, we hired the best companies, we had people like IMG who will not allow me to cut corners, when you do things for innovating a product or coming out with a pioneering product, if anybody could do it then I wouldn't be needed. When you pioneer a product, you come out with an innovative product of course when you're thinking outside the box you are going to upset the old establishment, you are going to change rules, if we did not change rules we would not be where we are. Cricket on it's own is one thing, what we did is add cricket with the entertainment, with the glamour, with the Bollywood, you know, there were a whole lot of different segments and thought processes that we put together and put out there which has resulted in the IPL where it is today, and of course it's upset some people, and of course we may have made mistakes along the line, but I don't regret them because if I hadn't made those mistakes I wouldn't have corrected them and gone forward and made it better, that is why today we are the world's hottest league.
Mihir Bose: You said you were an innovator with IPL, but in the process did you not violate certain norms of Indian culture? The pom-pom girls, blonde pom-pom girls? If I were in India I would see that as a slap for the Indian womanhood.
Lalit Modi: Again, you know, we did things that were out of the ordinary, we did things which embodied modern India with modern things that appeal to the youth, we are a country, but probably we are one of the only countries in the world which has the largest number of youth, youth population, and we try to address what the aspiration of the young India was, modern India was and that's what we brought in, and that worked, people like it, people love it, everything that we've done out there there's somebody that...somebody's enjoying it, it's the first time that you are actually...you talk about people, actually they talk about the IPL as a family product, they talk about IPL where the whole family from the grandmother to the grandfather, to the grandchildren, to the wife, to the husband are all actually looking forward to watching a programme together, they're not all going off in different directions, because there is something there that appeals to everybody in the...in the product that we created. Again, as I said, it's the whole product, it's something that we conceived, taking different elements of trying to make sure that it appeals to the whole family, that is why it appeals to the advertisers, it appeals to families across the country, that's why it became the talking point and that's why we have been able to deliver against every parameter to everybody.
Mihir Bose: But in bringing these blonde girls in, were you not saying that Indian women are not beautiful?
Lalit Modi: Of course not, we have the most prettiest women in our country and they are part of the IPL, and you know, we have many, many Indian women participating either as fans or in the stadiums, or watching the product, and the objective was, you know, cricket was a male dominated sport, and had been 97% of all cricket matches were watched by males, and we have taken that product and basically taken that ratio up to having 40 or 50% of the people that watch the IPL are non-traditional cricket viewers and are women and children, and what has that got to say about the product? It's got to say that they love it, they love every element of it otherwise they wouldn't be watching it, they would have thrown it away, and people have, you know, very, very short attention spans, they have so much entertainment being delivered to them via 200 odd channels coming into our country, there's all sorts of entertainment coming in into our country through the television tube, keep in mind we're a single television household too, the majority of the homes in India are single television homes, and people tend to what you call watch one or two of the programmes, and in our case the one programme that everybody looks forward to watching, and has delivered consistently the highest rating is the IPL, I mean that's all I've got to say about it.
Mihir Bose: Let us for the moment accept hat you upset members of the Cricket Board which has resulted in these actions against you, but given the fact that you're saying you are an innovator, you made a product to represent the new, shiny India, why is the government against you? They are trying to take away your passport.
Lalit Modi: Well you know, why the government is getting into what they're getting into is something that you've got to ask the government and not me. What I did is absolutely by the book, what I...and the rules that we made, and we went out and delivered what we had to do. Currently whatever is on is like a witch hunt and you know I'd rather not comment on it, this is something that you've got to ask the government why they're doing it.
Mihir Bose: The enforcement directorate says you are not answering their questions which is why they want you to come back to India, why don't you do that?
Lalit Modi: Yes, absolutely again, I say it again, coming back to the issue about the enforcement directorate, we have provided every piece of document that is needed by the enforcement directorate, all I've said it because of security issues I do not want to take the risk, for me security is a very important issue, the security of me and my family is extremely important.
Mihir Bose: The Chennai police have been told of a serious allegation of falsifying of books?
Lalit Modi: Again the Chennai police...what I...what you're reading in the papers, I'm reading the same thing as what you're reading, I've been told by the paper that they find there's nothing substantial in there, it says what the BCCI secretary Mr N Srinivasan has gone and filed charges against me, in Chennai, why in Chennai? Our headquarters are in Bombay. We don't know, this is something again you've got to ask him, and... and we're very happy to cooperate, I'm sure the Chennai police are doing a great job and will do a great job in coming to the bottom of this.
Mihir Bose: This Chennai allegation, is it based on Mr Srinivasan filing a first information report?
Lalit Modi: Yes it's based on a first information report filed by Mr Sr...Mr Srinivasan which is the same allegation that he has filed in the show-cause notice which is the same allegation that everybody else is negotiating, he's just taken it to another body to investigate further. So all bodies, they're all investigating the same matter at the end of the day.
Mihir Bose: So how long do you intend staying in London? When do you intend to return to India?
Lalit Modi: I will return to India as and when I feel secure.
Mihir Bose: But do you not realise that by not going back to India you further the image that you have actually benefited personally from the IPL, can you tell me that you have not pocketed money from the...as a result of setting up the IPL?
Lalit Modi: I can very clearly tell you that I have not pocketed any money from the IPL, and first and foremost let me just be very clear and be very objective about this, when I set up the IPL, if you're talking numbers, let's talk numbers, you've got to keep in mind I created something out of nothing. The BCCI had benefited, will benefit in the next ten years in excess of $2 billion which is never something that they have projected, to project that they were going to get, this is something of an initiative that I took on my own, as an honorary member, to create something of value, create something of value and do it for an organisation solely for the benefit of the organisation, and for the people that are getting involved with it, it is something that it wasn't asked of me to do, it wasn't something that was...it was an agenda of the BCCI to do, it was a project that I conceived, that I had been working for years to see, it was a dream of mine, something that I wanted to do, and I did it for the BCCI and for the country, and I did not do it for myself, and the benefit 100% accrued to the BCCI, and to the members who have been part of the IPL, and I'm very proud of it that I was able to create something that was a tremendous value, has world recognition and has put India on the map.
Mihir Bose: You say you're an honorary member of the BCCI, you stayed at the Four Seasons Hotel, travelled in luxury, was provided transport and so on, that must have been paid by BCCI? And that is the benefit accruing to you.
Lalit Modi: Absolutely not, again that is a misconception and a misnomer. All the costs form the day one that I joined the BCCI, in fact there are staff that are on my roles that I pay for through myself, and all costs that are related to my staying in a hotel or travelling or cars, are all mine, you know, BCCI may have provided a car here or there in a particular city, but they all charge it back to me. I never take...I fly on my own accord, I stay in hotels on my own cost, I run the IPL on my own time, I have people working in the IPL that are my personal staff which I pay for, and that is my contribution, in fact I'm paying for it, not somebody else, other way around, this again is a misconception. Since I was born I was born in a very wealthy family without doubt, my grandfather and my father have worked very hard to build their businesses, and I worked very hard to build businesses myself.
Mihir Bose: But IPL has made money for your relations, and you did not disclose that to the BCCI?
Lalit Modi: Today it's very well and fine to sit back in hindsight and say, you know, "I didn't declare", I didn't need to declare number one, first and foremost, because it was all there, number one, in front of everybody. In fact you had my Vice Chairman Niranjan Shah who was questioned immediately after the auction and said "Mr Modi's relatives have bid", he said "so what, there are no other bidders out there, and if he has bid he has put his own money in", if it wasn't friends and family that are coming to bid and come into...and believe in the product they wouldn't have had the IPL in the first place.
Mihir Bose: There have been suggestions that the IPL lead to the resurgence and the resurfacing of spot fixing and match fixing in cricket?
Lalit Modi: A lot is said about spot fixing and match fixing in any credible sport or sport that is taking place anywhere in the world and any point in time, our job has been always to be very vigilant in that, we were very conscious of that and our job has to be to the best of our ability is to make sure that this kind of things do not happen with any sport. You've got 8 team owners out there, 8 team owners who want to win, who have the passion, who are passionate about their teams, the players are passionate about the game, who all want to win, they're not...it's not controlled by one entity, they're all separate, and all of them are trying their level best to make sure they win. That itself, you know, tends to keep out those kind of elements in happening.
Mihir Bose: You've claimed great credit for moving IPL from India to South Africa when the security situation would not have allowed the tournament to be held in India, but there have also been allegations that as a result of that you personally benefited from it.
Lalit Modi: How? I would like to know. Yes I benefited by, yes, by creating a world class product, I benefited...the only way I benefited by showing to the world that it could be done, I benefited by showing my skills that I could move a product in 21 days, move tens of thousands of people across continents for a product that people take years to build, yes I benefited in that regard, yes I benefited by proving everybody wrong that it would not work, yes, I benefited by the fact that I was able to go out there and implement a successful tournament with house fulls and win the hearts and minds of people in South Africa, which is a challenge, and to do it in 21 days, without hiccups and move a tournament which in the first place should have taken place in India, and yes, I benefited by the fact that I made an international tournament and made it a worldwide product.
Mihir Bose: Here again we come up with a contradiction Lalit, you're saying you promoted India in South Africa through cricket right?
Lalit Modi: Yes, right.
Mihir Bose: And yet you clearly upset the Indian Home Minister, Mr Chidambaram, and you made political enemies did you not?
Lalit Modi: See again it was unfortunate that we could not hold the tournament in India, and it's unfortunate like you portrayed that we upset certain politicians, but you've got to understand, the reality of the matter was, Indian elections are inevitable, they take 45 days to 60 days, we could not have been provided the security. In hindsight it's always nice to say that I've upset somebody, but if you say it in hindsight and the tournament did not happen you will have said the IPL is dead and gone, because the advertisers would have lost faith in it, the consumers would have...the fan base would have lost faith in it, the owners would have lost a lot of money in it, and we would have not been where we are today, and we would not be sitting here talking about something that is so successful, because we won't have had it as a product. So the choice was either not to do it and do away with it, or the choice was to take a hard choice.
Mihir Bose: The way you presented it the government of India should be giving you a Bharat Ratna instead they have taken over your Havelis in Jaipur, how can you explain that?
Lalit Modi: Oh these are all questions that are related to due process and you know, when somebody does something which is under due process I would rather not comment on it and wait till the outcome of that process is over, then give the actual story.
Mihir Bose: Isn't it a fact, in the last few years we have had many sporting innovations, I'm thinking of the English Premier League, the Champion's League and so on, it's only the IPL that has been attended by this sort of controversy which suggests that you have behaved like a 19th century American buccaneer and cut corners, and taken liberties with people and that is why you are in this present position.
Lalit Modi: I don't think so what you're saying is right, I don't believe that a word you actually say is right, it's nice to put it like that and make it...it's a great headline. I'm used to that in one manner, but on the other hand you've got to understand everything I did I did it to the best of my ability, and I did it with the best intentions, and with the best team that we had. We thought outside the box, we created a product, the English Premier League wasn't created overnight, it took decades and decades. The English Premier League already had a culture, people already followed the Manchester Uniteds and the Chelsea, or the Arsenals or the Liverpools, and it was the English Premier League came to be formed for television purposes, for broadening or enhancing the value of their commercial rights and putting it together in a systematic manner, we looked at the downside and the upsides of every league, whether NFL, whether MLB, whether the J League in Japan or the British Premier League, each one has It's upside, each one has it's downside, they have different system in it. How many teams in the English Premier League make money? You are sitting here, not many, they're all in debt. We are a debt free model. Which league in the world is there that ensures equal performances by teams? That is what I wanted. Why did I want equal performance by teams? Because as far as television's concerned that's your bread and butter whether we like it or not, television pays for sports, television builds leagues, television builds sports, without the television revenue you can't go forward with anything, and we came up with a unique concept to build that, we came up with an auction process where all players were put into an auction, we gave everybody an unlimited amount of money, and all the players could be only bought through that process, all teams could only spend an equal amount of money and that was what it was all about, to try and bring equality in the teams, because we wanted equal ratings, we didn't want peaks and valleys...valleys in our ratings. For a broadcaster nothing could be better, what has that done? It's built a huge loyalty base for these teams which is quite unique from any other league in the world, you would never see a team that has been pitched a number eight out of 8 teams in year one, move to number one in year two, and then number eight team in year two move to number one in year three, it's never happened in any sport. So I am extremely happy and proud of what I delivered, I have not...I have no regrets at all.
Mihir Bose: Lalit, you've presented yourself as an innovator, a revolutionary making changes, and as a result of these charges, tell me, do you sleep well at night?
Lalit Modi: I sleep extremely well because again they're not charges, they are allegations.
Mihir Bose: And how do you see this ending?
Lalit Modi: It's going to end by me getting a clean slate.
Mihir Bose: But that could take a long process.
Lalit Modi: That's fine, I'm in no hurry, at the end of the day my...its the results of what I have built are already proven, that's something nobody can take away, even if they want to take away nobody can take that away, I have created a successful product, I hope that product continues to be successful going forward, but that's something that I've built, it's a baby of mine and I'm very happy with it.
Mihir Bose: But hasn't this damaged India? That the IPL was launched very successfully and then all these allegations have come up then we've had the Commonwealth Games, also again, and you know, at the end of the day it worked but there were a lot of allegations?
Lalit Modi: I'm...that's one thing that makes me unhappy is that we have people out there trying to pull down a successful product. A lot has gone into it, it's built a lot of aspiration for players, fans, ownership, it's built a whole new business model, it's created a whole new industry out there, and we have done something that is good. There are lots of people that are trying to pull it down. And that's the sad part and that's what makes me unhappy is that people always want to try and pull it down, of course there are vested interests that want to pull it down for other reasons, but in my view they should get their act together, get together and go on with it, whether I'm there or not is immaterial. It's...material is the fact that we have created the hottest league in the world, material is the fact that we have the best players in the world, we have one of the best owners in the world, we have put together systems and modalities to be a successful league, we have people climbing out of and wanting to be part of it, we have...and all of a sudden I don't see why an organisation that I was part of, the BCCI, would go out of it's way to kill a Golden Goose. You would never want to change something that is successful, you would tinker with it you may tweak it, to see...to make it, you know, more better and how it can be better, but you don't go out and tinker with a good product, I mean if you have a good formula, I mean I've been a marketing person all my life, and worked in many industries, you know, if I have a product that works I'm not going to go out and tinker with it.
Mihir Bose: Are you saying that this is the old story of the Indian exporting lobsters to America and he does it in an open box, when the American says "why do you do it in an open box, aren't you worried they'll escape?" He says "if one lobster tries to escape the others will pull it down", is this the old story? Is that what you're saying? That others were jealous of your success?
Lalit Modi: Again, you know, I don't have to say it, you're saying it, thank you very much.
Mihir Bose: Throughout this interview what has struck me Lalit, that you say these are allegations not charges, nothing has been proven, quite right, you still haven't gone to court or anything like that, but you don't seem to admit that you might have made some mistakes?
Lalit Modi: Mistakes, or what I think maybe a mistake or what you may think is a mistake or a third party may think is a mistake, it's again it's in the mind of that person, and that person, for me, what is most important is that I've delivered a product that made everybody happy, let's recount, as I said, objective, the BCCI met all it's objectives, so whatever we surpass everything as far as the BCCI is concerned. As far as the fans are concerned we created a more...a bigger fan base that anybody could ever imagine, and they love it. Of course you can tweak it and say, you know, x y that should not be there or should be there. The players, nobody paid the players before, today the players have a livelihood, the players enjoy the game, it's most competitive cricket, and they're there to benefit. Sponsors, they're able to measure product, and all of a sudden they create new vehicle that they can promote themselves in. A broadcaster are doing extremely well with what they are and they're calling it the 'icon product', and done extremely well with what it is. Infrastructure that we needed to build is growing, we have been able to put modern, new infrastructure in. The Indian economy has had a great fillip for this, I think this lays the path for future great events to come, India's not just a small country where no big major events have taken place, this is an event taking place year after year after year, and we have shown that and can do it. Yes, you pointed out yourself the Commonwealth Games, I think the Commonwealth Games was a great thing for India to happen. I think the government had the vision to go out and bid for it, of course sitting back in hindsight you could say it could have been done earlier, the stadium should have finished earlier, but this puts us on the threshold of a new sporting culture that is bound to come into India, this allows us to think more bravely, think with, you know, think that we as a nation could one day host the Olympics, I think in my lifetime we will definitely look at hosting the Olympics, and it gives us the platform to show that we are a professional country, the business of sports has come in, and you know, and in our case, you know, we got lucky. You know, as Napoleon would say he would rather have a lucky general than a brave one, and of course we got lucky with this as far as we concerned, but we made it work. Mistakes are made, but you learn from them, and you carry on from them. In my case, as a pioneer and as an architect or a founder of the IPL I started with nothing, I started without any knowledge base, it wasn't done before, we built on it, but I am proud of what I did, I have no regrets and if I had to do it again...of course I may do it with a little bit of change, but with the knowledge that I have, but if I didn't have the knowledge I have in the first place I wouldn't have been able to create what I did in the first place.
Mihir Bose: Thank you, thank you very much.
Lalit Modi: Thank you very much, thank you for having me.