Chirayu Amin takes reins of IPL, India's wealthiest cricket league

Pharmaceutical mogul Chirayu Amin is now the IPL (Indian Premier League) interim chief. Lalit Modi was suspended Sunday over allegations of corruption and financial irregularities while he chaired the IPL.

Arko Datta/Reuters
Shashank Manohar, President of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), arrives at a governing council meeting of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in Mumbai Monday. Lalit Modi, the chief of the IPL, has been suspended Sunday for his possible role in alleged corruption in the world's richest cricket tournament.

The Indian Premier League (IPL) today announced that its new interim chairman is Chirayu Amin, the chief managing director of Indian pharmaceutical company Alembic.

To American ears, this would be like making the head of Pfizer the new commissioner of Major League Baseball if Bud Selig were to become embroiled in a controversial sale of the Red Sox and Yankees to Hollywood stars and White House officials.

The previous Indian Premier League chairman, Lalit Modi, was suspended Sunday amid 22 allegations of corruption that include rigging the sale of teams to preferred buyers, including Bollywood stars and political leaders in New Delhi, according to Indian news company NDTV.

The IPL is one of the most lucrative sports leagues in the world. The average player makes an annual salary of $3.8 million – more than the Major League Baseball average salary, according to one estimate.

Shashank Manohar, president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), made the announcement Sunday. "It's the BCCI's duty to look into the allegations, and to have an inquiry it's important to suspend the person concerned," he said.

The Indian Premier League (IPL) runs the six-week Twenty20 cricket competition, the biggest sporting event in the world's second most-populous country, which recently concluded. Twenty20 matches run about 3.5 hours, while traditional matches run from three to eight days.

Mr. Amin, the league's new interim chairman, is a vice president of the BCCI and also heads the Baroda Cricket Association. He said he would focus on bringing transparency to the league.

"The immediate task is to clean up the IPL. The event has just concluded and we'll now start planning for the next year," Amin said.

Mr. Modi is credited with making the Indian Premier League highly lucrative, incorporating cheerleaders and a simple television-friendly format that turned the league into a $4.1 billion enterprise that contracts some of the game’s biggest players. In March, the league sold off its first two franchises, one for $370 million and the other for $330 million. That's about the same valued price of the Colorado Rockies and the Cincinnati Reds.

Modi on Sunday said he only ever acted in accordance with the BCCI.

"The BCCI is scared of the truth. Nothing wrong has been done," NDTV quoted Modi as saying. "Every decision was endorsed by the governing council."

The head of India’s Nationalist Congress Party, Sharad Pawar, formerly headed the council. The head of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is a vice-president on the council.

The board and the league, whose team owners range from rich businessmen to Bollywood stars, is under scrutiny for a number of irregularities. Among them, Shashi Tharoor recently resigned as India’s junior foreign minister after he was accused of using political muscle to bring a team to his home state of Kerala, according to the AP.

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