Indian Premier League commissioner Lalit Modi and global sports marketing and consulting firm International Management Group (IMG) go back a long way, it has emerged.
Modi-promoted Pink City Sports Complex Ltd and IMG signed a deal in 2006 promising to pay IMG millions of dollars over 25 years for running sports academies in India.
IMG is the company Modi engaged to conceptualise IPL in 2007. It charged Rs 40 crore for the first two seasons and Rs 26 crore for the third. Many in the cricket establishment now believe IMG has been paid too much money for too little work.
According to documents and correspondence between Ted Meekma, senior V-P IMG and director IMG Academies, and Deepa Raizada, an associate of Modi, IMG Academies agreed to set up institutes and merchandise retail shops in India.
These include: Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy, David Leadbetter Golf Academy, IMG Soccer Academy, International Performance Institute, IMG Academies on Polo and Equestrian Sports, IMG Academies on Shooting and Archery, IMG Swimming Academy.
IMG also agreed to bring in international tournaments to India, although this clause was not binding.
IMG officials in the U.S confirmed to HT that an agreement was signed, but it was rescinded in 2007. “There was a preliminary deal reached but was later rescinded,” Jim Gallagher of IMG told HT in an emailed response. No reasons were given why the deal was called off. According to the agreement, accessed by HT, Pink City Sports Complex was to have paid IMG Academies about Rs 4,300 crore over a 25-year period.
In return, IMG was to set up exclusive institutes including a chapter of the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy whose students include greats such as Maria Sharapova, Venus and Serena Williams, Andre Agassi, Boris Becker, Jim Courier, Martina Hingis and Monica Seles among others.
The deal involved acquiring 1500 acres of land by Pink City Sports Complex in Rajasthan with 500 acres set aside exclusively for IMG Academies.
There were plans to set up retail shops that would have sold exclusive merchandise of IMG, “members only club”, a school and a residential colony within the premises of the academies.
In later phases there were plans to set up licenced IMG academies in Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. The deal with Pink City Sports may not have worked, but three years later IMG has inked a similar deal with Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Limited.
The venture, IMG Reliance Pvt. Ltd “will provide and operate world class infrastructure and coaching facilities in the country to unlock India’s sporting potential and create and operate major sports and entertainment assets in the country,” including IMG Academies.
This deal was signed last month. The management of IMG’s existing business and assets in India including the Aircel Chennai Open and Lakmé Fashion Week will be transferred to the joint venture.