BCCI’s site goes down after Lalit Modi fails to pay the bill

In a bizarre turn of events, the BCCI website (www.bcci.tv) went blank on a memorable weekend for Indian cricket because someone failed pay the renewal fee for the domain registration. And that someone happens to be Lalit Modi, who’s been a persona-non-grata for the BCCI for close to five years.

The site went down while India’s Under-19 team was winning the junior World Cup on Saturday and the blackout lasted for nearly 24 hours, during which the seniors drubbed South Africa to take a 2-0 lead in the ODI series. And the BCCI officials could do nothing but wait because the domain is owned by Modi, who was banned by the board in 2013 and has been living in London since then as the various government agencies pursue cases of financial irregularities against him.

The story dates back to 2007 when, in an illustration how the board operated then, Modi, who was then one of the board’s vice-presidents, registered numerous domains on behalf of the BCCI’s various properties including the IPL under his own name instead of BCCI’s.

According to a BCCI official, Modi registered almost 100 domains and got the costs reimbursed by the board.

Following the removal of Modi in 2013, the BCCI approached the Bombay High Court to reclaim the domains while accusing Modi of breach of trust. The court said that pending a final decision, all the payments for the various domain accounts should be put on auto-renewal on a credit card owned by Modi.

According to the BCCI official it was likely that Modi had changed the credit card and hence the payment was rejected. By late Sunday the website was functioning once again, although users continued to face issues outside of India.

The BCCI official said that as soon as a red flag was raised late on Saturday, it chased Modi, who assured it that the payment would be done. The board official also said without the court taking a final decision, the BCCI was helpless if any such issue flared up in future. “The court has said that till a final order is given on the ownership [of the BCCI domain names] Lalit Modi will need to provide for the services of the websites,” the official said. “So the onus to renew, is on them [Modi].”

Modi could not be directly reached for a reaction. However, responding to the question why he had registered the domains under his personal name, Mehmood Abdi, Modi’s legal counsel, accused the BCCI of not being proactive.

“Lalit Modi reinvented BCCI in many ways,” Abdi said in emailed statement. “Digitalisation was one such sphere. While the then the mindset of BCCI functionaries was archaic vis a vis avenues like domain names etc, Lalit Modi himself took the initiative and got host of domain names registered by him… Despite having been treated so unjustly by BCCI Lalit Modi still keeps the domains alive and functional…

“The domain was on auto renewal. Whereas, there was some payment gateway issue which has been resolved and the website is operational. BCCI should have been proactive to get this domain renewed well in time so as to avoid the glitch.”

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