New Delhi: Former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi on Tuesday claimed that the auction for the 2009 edition of the cash-rich T20 tournament was "rigged" in favour of Chennai Super Kings whose owner, N Srinivasan, is now the president of the Indian Cricket Board.

Srinivasan, however, rubbished Modi's claims by stating that there is "absolutely no substance or truth" in what he is saying.

Modi, who was the IPL chief at the time, has alleged that the rules were tweaked to allow former England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff to remain with Chennai.

"Flintoff auction was rigged. I made it clear that time. That onus was on me and as chairman I should have not allowed that to happen then. I was arm-twisted to allow Andrew Flintoff to go to Chennai Super Kings.

"I'm to blame for that. It's a fact. Similar problem happened with the Pakistani players. Arm-twisting happened by senior BCCI officials that nobody should pick them," Modi said on Tuesday.

Srinivasan, who was the BCCI secretary at the time, said it was surprising that Modi was making these allegations after three years.

"I haven't watched the television programme where he has said all this. All I can say is that there is absolutely no substance or truth in what he is saying. If he is talking about 2009 why is he saying all this in 2012," Srinivasan said.

Modi's allegations come close on the heels of Sahara India announcing its decision to pull out of its sponsorship of the Indian team and ownership of the Pune Warriors IPL franchise.

"Subrata (Roy, Sahara Group chief) is right when he says there is no level playing field. Over past few seasons we have seen rules being changed to benefit one team or the other. The IPL was built on the premises that there should be a level playing field.

"That's why we had auction, the capping - the maximum money one can pay and there should be no side trading. But over the years the auction rules have changed and it's to the detriment of some teams," Modi said.

Modi said that the BCCI stands to lose close to Rs 10,000 crore as a result of the Sahara pull-out and the terminations in recent times.

"With Kochi, Sahara, Nimbus and Sony contracts going down it's close to ten thousand crores loss to BCCI."

Asked about the conflict of interest with Chennai team and the favours to the two-time defending champions and Mumbai, Modi said, "The accusations are justified. We changed the rules in Champions league where we allowed five players to play. You should make rules for all teams that everybody benefits out of it.

"What Subrataji is saying regarding Yuvraj is not right. This problem should have been resolved prior to that. Not only two teams but also few more teams wanted to keep their key players. A lot of teams wanted their players to go back but more powerful teams could get the clause retain."

And about the chances of returning to India, he said, "The ED and other authorities are just throwing charges but in last two years they have not come up with any thing. I've been answering the questions but not a single allegation has turned into fact.

"I will be very happy to return to India but what about the witch hunt. All agencies would go after you without any proof. I will comeback if there is guarantee that there will be no witch hunt."

While raising doubts over the sustainability of IPL, Modi also hit out at the present management for lack of transparency.

"If you change the rules the business model won't work. I've been saying from the beginning that the rules have to be equal. BCCI has done certain things which are going to hurt cricket in long run.

"Why everybody is going away from the IPL today. There is lack of transparency now. Stick to the formula and we have a golden goose to cash on."

(Agencies)