Lalit Modi, founder of the IPL, believes that if restrictions were relaxed, players could soon be earning $1-million a game.
Modi predicts the end of ICC tournaments as we know it, while also suggesting Test cricket will only survive if there was a proper Test championship. And in a veiled warning which South African administrators may want to note, he believes that no T20 tournament, including the Big Bash, will survive without private ownership.
In an exclusive interview with Nick Hoult of the Telegraph in London, Modi said that if the IPL relaxed its salary cap of $12-million (about R144-million), a bidding war would start that would catapult the best players into the top earners in world sport. Already players such as Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers earn millions for the season.
‘We have one and a half billion people in India that are dedicated to the game of cricket,’ said Modi. ‘The income levels of the Indian population are rising; you will see international and domestic brands wanting to target the Indian consumer.
‘Going forward you will see an IPL match grossing not less than $200-million a day in terms of revenue, each match. If you have a season of 60 matches the value will be billions.
‘Remember, it is the owners that pay for the players’ purse. What happens if the IPL gets rid of the salary cap making it a free market? It is going to go like Premier League football. The salaries will be out of whack. You will see players making $1-$2m a game.’
Accepting his naked bias for the IPL, Modi has a gloomy forecast for cricket:
‘Today international cricket does not matter,’ he said. ‘It is of zero value to the Indian fan. You will see bilateral cricket disappear. Big series will happen once every three or four years like the World Cup. The ICC will become an irrelevant body.
‘I think there is a window for Test cricket and a World Test Championship will survive if all nations get together and make it a proper tournament. But it has to be a championship. If the ICC does not do it I see no reason why the IPL would not do it instead as a knockout IPL Test championship.’
‘But who will provide the talent?’ asks Hoult. No matter how rich it is, the Indian game cannot produce all the players. Modi believes the Twenty20 leagues around the world will be nurseries for future stars … unless national boards open the league to private ownership.
‘Either you make it on day one or you do not. If they do not have teams owned by private owners they are finished. If it is going to be owned by the board and the counties it will not work. You have got to have the money from the owners. If you have 10 billionaires sitting at a table who all have big egos, want to win and the best players, they will pay for it. Then you compete with IPL.
‘The Big Bash is a fly to be swatted on the wall compared to IPL. Its revenue is negligible to the IPL. ECB will be the same. It will make a little bit of noise but when it comes to players the big money will be in India. Boards relying on TV revenue is not enough, they have to have private investors.’