The International Management Group’s (IMG) 13-year-long partnership with the BCCI and the Indian Premier League (IPL) ended this week after the cricket board wrote to the UK-based events company, officially conveying that the time has come to part ways.
Brought on board in 2007-08 by the BCCI to professionally run the IPL on the lines of any world class sporting event around the world, the IMG had been integral to the T20 league through all these years.
The BCCI has, over the years, gained rich experience in running the league and is well-equipped to put in place a world class team to run the show. Right now, all we can say is that the partnership with IMG has run its course,” top sources told TOI.
Retained by way of a five-year deal in 2017, after an initial 10 years of being on board, the events company had two more years left to go for the contract to end before the untimely exit came less than four days ago.
With former BCCI vice-president – and later IPL commissioner – Lalit Modi at the helm, the IMG boarded the T20 league wagon since its inception in 2007-08, signing an annual Rs 27 crore deal for a period of 10 years.
In 2009, when the IPL got shifted to South Africa – owing to the general elections in India – the BCCI, again with Modi at the forefront, decided to hike IMG’s annual contract to Rs 33 crore before reworking it back to Rs 28 crore per year.
In 2017, the BCCI gave IMG a 40% hike while renewing the deal for another five years (adding approx. Rs 12 cr per year to the kitty).
IMG’s senior vice-president and marketing head Catherine Simpson had quit her position last month and those in the know say “the writing was on the wall ever since her exit”.
Simpson is learnt to have quit the company owing to her differences with the BCCI which had been growing steadfastly over the years.
Senior executives such as Andrew Wildblood – who was at the forefront of the partnership in 2007-08 with Modi at the helm; Peter Griffith – who quit IMG and the BCCI-IPL set-up in 2015 to join the US-based National Football League (NFL) as its chief operating officer; John Loffhagen – a senior lawyer with experience in sports events, who now works as an independent consultant; and Simpson – the latest among the executives who worked with the IPL have all left the building now.
“Relationships kept swinging from sweet to sour every now and then, like any professional set-up. These were qualified individuals, but every journey has to come to an end. This one has also reached its conclusion,” is how BCCI sources put it.
In 2010, at the time when the BCCI was busy terminating Modi from the ecosystem and the IPL, IMG’s role – under Wildblood – too had remained under the scanner, particularly for the hefty fee that the cricket board was paying the UK-based company.
“At that time, renegotiations took place, and IMG stayed,” recollects a former BCCI office-bearer.
Now, the board is looking to put in place a team of qualified executives to run the show as the 14th edition of the IPL draws near. “There’s ample time.
Things will work out just the same,” sources added.