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Indian Cricket Body to Probe Telecast Rights for Richest League

Indian cricket’s governing body will probe broadcast and Internet agreements signed by the sport’s richest league after suspending founder Lalit Modi amid a government probe into financial irregularities.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India doesn’t have the papers for the rights, Shashank Manohar, president of the board told reporters in Mumbai today. The body named Chirayu Amin, chairman and managing director of drugmaker Alembic Ltd. to take over as the interim chairman of the Indian Premier League from Commissioner Modi.

Modi said on April 20 he would respond to any allegations after a two-week franchise scandal triggered investigations by the government and tax officials and forced the resignation of a minister. IPL’s brand value has grown to $4.13 billion from $2.01 billion last year and is the most-watched format of the game in the nation of 1.2 billion people, according to estimates by Brand Finance Plc.

“There was too much of power in one hand,” Manohar said. “We are not in possession of the broadcasting rights documents, which the income-tax department is asking us for every day.”

Modi, 46, didn’t answer calls to his mobile phone.

The crisis meeting comes a day after the final game in the 45-day tournament saw the Chennai Super Kings defeat the Mumbai Indians, owned by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, Asia’s richest man. Chennai Super Kings is controlled by N. Srinivasan, vice chairman and managing director of India Cements Ltd. and a secretary of the BCCI. Billionaire Vijay Mallya, chairman of UB Group, Rupert Murdoch’s son, Lachlan, and movie megastar Shah Rukh Khan are among owners of the six remaining teams.

Value Appreciation

The value appreciation of the three-year-old cricket tournament outpaced last year’s 81 percent gain in India’s benchmark Sensitive Index, the most in 18 years. Manchester United, a U.K. soccer team founded more than a century ago, was valued at $1.87 billion in April 2009, while the U.S. National Football League’s Dallas Cowboys was worth $1.65 billion, according to Forbes magazine’s ranking of the world’s most valuable sports teams.

Shashi Tharoor, 54, a junior foreign minister and a former undersecretary general at the United Nations, resigned on April 18 amid opposition claims that he benefited from free shares given to a friend by Rendezvous Sports World Ltd., which heads a grouping that won a $333 million bid for a team from the southern state of Kerala. Tharoor, in a statement to lawmakers on April 20, said he’d done “nothing improper or unethical, let alone illegal.”

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said the same day that the government will look into “all aspects of the IPL, including its source of funding” and assured “appropriate action” will be taken against the guilty.

“The events of the last few days have thrown up lot of sad and unfortunate developments,” BCCI President Manohar said in a statement today, after suspending Modi from all positions at the IPL and BCCI, which oversees the league.

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