Kochi pulls out of IPL

Thursday, November 25, 2010

NEW DELHI/THIRUVANANTHAPURAM - Kochi’s Indian Premier League dream is all but over as the squabbling franchise owners Thursday wrote to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that they have failed to settle their ownership patterns and were, therefore, withdrawing from the league.

The development came just two days before the the board’s deadline to sort out the differences among the owners expires.

Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) secretary T.C. Matthew told IANS that the owners have informed the BCCI about their decision in a letter.

“We all wished and hoped that the consortium members would sort out whatever difference of opinion they had. But it appears that things have all turned sour and the bad news has come out that there will be no team from Kerala,” said Mathew.

“I have been informed by some of the partners of the Kochi franchise that they have informed the BCCI about their decision to withdraw from the fourth season of the league. It is a very unfortunate incident for Kerala cricket,” he said.

Rendezvous Sports World in March won the franchisee rights for the Kochi IPL team for a bid price of Rs.1,500 crore.

Despite getting a 30-day notice to settle their ownership pattern, the owners failed to sort out their internal problems. Anchor Earth, Parinee Developers, Rosy Blue and Film Wave hold 74 percent of the equity while the Gaekwad brothers, who own Rendezvous Sports World, own the remaining 26 percent stake as free equity for services rendered in successfully bidding for the franchise.

The stakeholders, however, were in no mood to give 26 percent as free equity to the Gaekwad brothers, who did not want to part with it.

The consortium successfully bid for the Kochi franchise pledging a whopping $333 million (Rs.1,500 crore).

If there was one crestfallen person it would be none other than former union minister and Lok Sabha member from Thiruvananthapuram Shashi Tharoor. Having worked behind the scenes to put the Kochi team together, he lost his ministerial berth after news broke out that his then friend and now wife Sunanda Pushkar had earned sweat equity in the Kochi IPL franchise.

Tharoor tweeted: “the dream is over for now, those who didn’t want a Kerala IPL team have finally succeeded. Some of us have paid a high price for trying.”

With Kochi’s exit, Ahmedabad and Rajkot are the two likely cities to bid for a slot in the IPL. The IPL Governing Council has decided to go ahead and conduct auction for the eighth team by December 15.

“After the suspension of Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals, the IPL couldn’t have afforded to lose a third team as it would have posed more problems,” a top official in the Governing Council told IANS.

The official said Ahmedabad and Rajkot are among the cities that would be interested in bidding for the eighth team.

“Ahmedabad and Rajkot will definitely take part in the auction,” said the official.

Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group and Adani Industries have shown interest in Ahmedabad. Ambani lost in the first auction while the Adanis’ bid fell short of Pune and Kochi bids at the auction in Chennai.

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