Sunday, July 26, 2015

What goes along comes along? Isn’t it IPL / Kochi Tuskers?

Once upon a time, not so long ago in 2011, there were a group of investors who wanted to get involved in a lucrative, high visibility, highly marketable sporting event and went on to bid a mind blowing Rs. 15.33 billion for owning a team. They selected Kochi as their base city and hence the team’s name became “Kochi Tuskers Kerala”, the tusker part derived from Elephants in Kerala. 

Kochi Tuskers Kerala logo comeback in IPL

But this agreement was by no means, a “happily ever after” scenario. Immediately after the deal was won, Kochi Tuskers Management developed internal ownership issues. This was, after all, a franchisee owned by many owners in unequal measure. Only after BCCI gave them a 30 day termination notice, Kochi Tuskers management prepared a revised structure of agreement. This was then agreed by BCCI and Kochi Tuskers were allowed to play in the IPL of 2011. 

Phase 1: Upper Hand – IPL / BCCI.

One year later, Kochi Tuskers were eliminated. BCCI were of the opinion that Kochi Tuskers for breaching its terms of agreement.  The issue was something related to the bank guarantee. The case went to court and the franchisee’s plea not allowing BCCI to encash the bank guarantee was rejected. BCCI gleefully did the needful. Part of the bank guarantee went to fund the salaries of the players who now don’t have a team.

Phase 2: Upper Hand – IPL / BCCI.

And now brace yourself for another twist!

Kochi Tuskers then challenged the withdrawing of bank guarantee in court. The final verdict happened this month (July 2015). Kochi Tuskers won the verdict and the court ordered BCCI to pay up the bank guarantee with interest! The amount comes to around Rs. 550/- Crore (other sources have calculated the amount to be closer to Rs. 900/- Crore). If the BCCI doesn’t pay up, the amount will increase by 18% annually. This has come as a big shock for BCCI who are already feeling the pressure of playing the next edition of IPL with 6 legit teams after Chennai and Rajasthan were suspended by Justice Lodha committee.

Phase 3: Upper Hand – Kochi Tuskers Kerala.

There’s one way BCCI can reduce the pressure significantly. BCCI needs 2 teams to replace / substitute for Chennai and Rajasthan so as to play IPL-9. Broadcasters and advertisers won’t allow IPL-9 to start or will negotiate for a reduced telecast / spot rates which BCCI won’t allow. Now, the twist is Kochi Tuskers have expressed interest to come back to IPL and are ready for BCCI to adjust the penalty amount from the annual franchisee fee. BCCI are left with no other option but to concede to Kochi’s request. I don’t think BCCI will take this up legally since with every passing day, the penalty amount is reaching unpayable proportions. The only option left is an out-of-court settlement which is where Kochi can make a grand comeback!

Life has come a full circle for Kochi Franchisee. But, in all fairness, Kochi deserves a Cricket team. They have a football team with Sachin Tendulkar as the owner. The same level should be present in Cricket too. Yes, there are logistical issues, but those aren’t something that can’t be sorted out.

But hey, the story’s not over yet. 

Phase 4: Upper Hand – To be decided.

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