Mar 23, 2009 at 12:13am IST

We didn't want IPL to go out of India: Lalit Modi

New Delhi: The man at the centre of it IPL row is chairman Lalit Modi who spoke to CNN-IBN's s chief cricket correspondent Roma Khanna. While relieved that his baby, the IPL is going ahead, Modi launched a ferocious attack on some sections of the political class including Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot.

Here is the verbatim transcript of the an CNN-IBN exclusive interview with Lalit Modi:

Roma Khanna: Welcome to CNN-IBN. It really was a big announcement when BCCI announced moving IPL out of India. What went on for you to come to that conclusion?.

Lalit Modi: It was a tough decision. It wasn't an easy decision for the BCCI to come to that. We and the BCCI tried everything, every which way, every possible situation. to try and keep the matches in India. We worked with all the state governments, we re-worked with all the state governments to get approvals. And we did get approvals from the state governments in writing to hold it but due to unfortunate incidences, some of the state governments started to pull out after giving permission in writing. And that led us to basically, because of election issues, take a very hard decision.

Roma Khanna:Did you feel at any point of time demoralised with the kind of hurdles that you kept facing with regards to the schedules just three weeks to go before the IPL begins?

Lalit Modi: I wouldn't say demoralising. Yes, it is a lot of work every time we change the schedule. It takes 10 to 12 hours for my team to work on it and put a schedule out. As I said we had multiple iteriations, taking into account multiple situations and lot of hard work has gone into it. All our franchisees, all our state associations, all our members have worked very very hard to get basically to a start off and we spent a lot of time, effort and money on it. Yes, all of that has to start all over again. But we are quite confident that we will be able to do it all over again in another country. The sad part is again, as I said, we are very sad that the fans who were really looking forward to visiting the stadium and experiencing it live, unfortunately will not be able to experience it live. But I guarantee they will be able to get the best quality feed that we can produce on the television sets.

Roma Khanna:Tell me one thing, today Ashok Gehlot also made a statement saying that there were other reasons for pulling out the IPL. There is this opinion also that the Congress governed states were where IPL was facing problems. Do you feel in some ways that your proximity, your closeness to the BJP government is what has caused this problem?

Lalit Modi: I don't think that is the case. Less said about Ashok Gehlot, the better. We know what he is capable of and what he has done. I rather not comment on it. He knows better than that. All the false statements and warrants coming against me is a separate issue and I don't want to get into it. The Rajasthan government from time to time has been giving out different statements which are totally untrue but that is his lookout. As far we are concerned, we have been going out of our way to ensure that matches take place. In fact, I was the first one on March 1 that appreciated the Rajasthan government actually giving approval but the approval had caveats on it. The caveats were not acceptable to the Home Ministry and to everybody else. They wanted six paramilitary companies to be given for holding the matches. So that is basically the reason. In the hindsight, I am sure they would like to defend that position but that is his position. We are very clear and we under no circumstances wanted to pull the matches out. Why would we want to take the extra burden of moving the matches out of India and go through the anxiety and the logistics of taking something that is already ready, baked, fully done and mapped out. And why would we go through so many itenerations if we had to pull it out in the first place. It is not an easy task to do this. It is a gigantic task for our team. One needs to understand that a tournament of this magnitude to be put together in 20 days has never been done in history before. So for us to take this task on and actually go out and deliver to the public what we promised to do and we have been saying, we will go out and do it, is a huge logistic issue for us. But we are quite confident. We have put the wheels into motion in various countries. We are not only evaluating one, we are evaluating multiple countries now with multiple options to implement right away. And we are confident that we will be able to do it.

Roma Khanna:Do you feel that this whole issue has been politicised with the way things have been happening for the last two-three weeks?

Lalit Modi: Again, I don't want to comment on that. The media and the public knows more than I do. However, there is more that what meets the eye.

Roma Khanna:Looking ahead, South Africa and England both of said that they are in discussion with BCCI for hosting IPL. Please tell us your views about these two venues?

Lalit Modi: They are both great countries without doubt. We would love to host our matches there. We need to freeze on where we are going. You have to understand that for us, it is not just taking one team and going to a venue which has already been decided and you just plug it in, it's a movement of thousands of people and putting it in place. So, we have to look at logistics as the key issues for us. We have not gone into ticket sales yet in India, leave alone anywhere else. I had promised all our fans that we would have ticket sales in November last year and unfortunately we have not been able to fulfil that promise and we hope that we are able to pull it through and we will have to work day and night to do that.

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