Modi says he is suing Giles Clarke for defamation

By Veturi Srivatsa, IANS,

New Delhi: Lalit Modi, the suspended chairman and commissioner of the Indian Premier League (IPL), is filing a defamation suit against Giles Clarke, chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), for making an “unfounded charge” that he was behind a planned unofficial Twenty20 league in England.

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Modi said Saturday that he was appalled at Clarke’s “preposterous allegation”.

“How could I go with a proposition like the one Clarke credits me with when I was the person who was opposed to Indian Cricket League (ICL), Arab League and US League,” Modi told IANS.

“When I insist that all players should get a clearance from their respective boards to play in the IPL, could I do anything going behind the ECB’s back?”

Asked if he sees a conspiracy to discredit him, Modi said he would not like to speculate since everything is in the public domain and people can judge themselves.

Modi said he need not defend himself by reacting to a baseless charge when his (Clarke’s) own counties have come out with the truth.

Modi said he would deal with the Indian cricket board’s showcause notice after finalising the replies to the charges levelled in the first chargesheet. Monday is the deadline for submitting the reply.

Clarke is also facing a possible legal action from sports marketing giant IMG for dragging its name into the controversy.

The event management company clarified that it only facilitated the meeting at the request of the counties and it was only to discuss the challenges faced by English cricket and the commercial prospects of a tournament in the shortest format of the game.

Clarke Thursday sent an email to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) stating that Modi and three English County officials had a meeting going over ECB’s head.

Basing on the email that said officials of Yorkshire, Lancashire and Warwickshire met Modi in New Delhi in March, Indian board secretary N. Srinivasan, a known baiter of the suspended IPL chief, shot off a showcause notice to him.

It is alleged that Modi proposed to the counties that the eight IPL franchises would support financially the teams to kick off a league in England similar to India’s cricket showpiece.

Clarke’s strongly-worded email to the BCCI accused Modi of planning “to destroy world cricket’s structure and especially that in England, and create a new rebel league”.

The Indian board quickly issued the showcause notice, referring to Modi’s March 31 meeting with the representatives of English counties.

“You have allegedly discussed this as a commercial proposition… and also set out that IPL would guarantee each county a minimum of $3-5 million per annum plus a staging fee of $1.5 million if the counties supported this idea,” the notice charged Modi.

“You have allegedly offered a structured deal, by which the returns would be shared 80:20 between the franchises and the counties, a player model based on the IPL model and offered inducement to gather the rest of the county members to support your ideas and goad them to overpower their own governing bodies.

“You have allegedly planted a seed of thought of players’ revolt if the governing bodies of respective cricket boards do not allow them to participate in this extended version of IPL,” the notice said.

Clarke also took exception to IMG using its good offices in arranging the meeting.

“We also wish to take action against IMG for promoting this along with Modi and to seek their banning from world cricket,” the email said.

It went on to state that the ECB would like to forge a new relationship with the BCCI minus Modi.

“Your help and support in eradicating this threat and dealing with the miscreants will be greatly appreciated. The ECB believes (that) under your leadership the BCCI/ECB relationship has become very strong.”