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    Dec 2008

    Default 'IPL won't grow beyond seven weeks' - Modi

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    the IPL commissioner, has said there are no plans to extend the tournament's season beyond the current six-to-seven week duration, as that would affect other forms of the game and the regular cricket season in India. Speaking on Cricinfo's fortnightly discussion show Time Out - which goes live on March 9 - Modi also defended the $225 million base price for the new franchises, rejecting the notion that it would create a football-style debt trap for the investors. "We are going to have the current limitation (in the IPL's duration), and we are happy to live with that," Modi said. "Then (if we make it a longer tournament) you are going to starting to hurt the other forms of the game. We chose the window specifically to be off-season in India, April-May are typically off season in India … I don't think we are going to be able to change that."
    Even with 94 games scheduled in the 2011 season, Modi said the season will only be 51 days long. "It's (next season) only over seven weeks instead of six, it's over 51 days instead of 46, we have done the scheduling, we just have to announce it."
    While the IPL had packed houses in its inaugural year, several Test matches in India, including the one in which Sachin Tendulkar overtook Brian Lara's run-aggregate, have attracted disappointingly small crowds over the past few years, leading to fears of a dip in popularity in the game's oldest format. However, Modi strongly disagreed with that notion, stating that viewership ratings were continuing to rise and even suggested that Test cricket was the highest revenue-earner for the Indian board.
    "Test cricket is our bread and butter which people don't understand, we are never going to compromise on Test cricket," he said. "When I talked about, you know, (how) we have to do something about Test cricket, it's in the other countries that Test cricket is going down. In India, our ratings are going up, we have been tracking that year by year, in fact, we get paid highest for Test cricket."
    He rejected the charge that the glamour and the money associated with the IPL will make today's children grow up thinking of Twenty20 as the only format that matters. "The younger generation was mostly moving away from the game of cricket, we have brought them back into the game," he said. "They were diverting their attention towards football and other sports, we have not only been able to retain them, we have been able to add more people to it, I think the size of the pie is only going to increase."
    The IPL has been an enormous success in its first two seasons, giving the tournament's organisers the confidence to quadruple the base price for two new franchises from the US$50m it was for the original eight franchises in 2007. Modi said he had no fears that the high valuation would lead to a repeat of the scenario in the English Premier League, where many of the leading clubs are perennially in debt.

    "We wouldn't want that (clubs getting into a debt trap). When we did the 50m numbers, we projected certain revenue going forward, 80% of the revenue (we earn) goes back to the franchises," he said. "When we did our numbers, it was on a business plan. Our business plan is already four times of what we had planned then."
    The value of the Rajasthan Royals, who won the inaugural season of the IPL, shot up to more than twice the US$67m it was brought for in just a year, but Modi said he had no regrets over the base price of US$50m for the original franchises. "No, no, the idea is that everybody should survive and make money on it, then only can somebody grow, because of the confidence, whatever we have done, we have no regrets."
    Last month, there was talk that Modi was planning to take the IPL to the US, but he said the idea was to play some exhibition matches or a short tournament there, and not to move the main competition. "The US is a big market, a growing market, we definitely want to tap that market," he said. "I don't think we will go with the IPL, but what you'll do is take the IPL teams, play a shorter tournament or exhibition games to start with, you'll play within the gaps in the calendar in the year and try and build a fanbase"
    When asked whether he was concerned over the perception that the IPL starts and ends with Lalit Modi and over what would happen if he was not associated with the IPL he said, "I do, I think about it all the time, that's why we are trying to put in a professional organization. We are only two years old, we have some very, very good people in there, and whether I'm there or not, they have learnt very well and I'm sure they will be able to take it on."



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