Last-minute proposal gives Kochi IPL franchise time till December 5

Last-minute proposal gives Kochi IPL franchise time till December 5

New Delhi: The governing council of the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Sunday decided to defer until 5 December a decision on the fate of the Kochi franchise after the promoters claimed they had resolved an internal feud over the ownership structure.

The franchise owners informed the governing council that they had resolved the stand-off on Saturday, the last day of a 30-day deadline they were given to end the squabble or face ouster from the Twenty20 cricket tournament, run by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

BCCI president Shashank Manohar said at a press conference in Nagpur on Sunday that the council hadn’t had the time to review the documents submitted by promoters of the franchise to back their claim and so deferred a final decision.

“Looking at the flip-flop stand taken by the Kochi team, the governing council has decided that the documents submitted by them need to be examined in great detail," he said. “We have had no time to examine it. We will take the opinion of our legal experts before any decision."

Rendezvous Sports World Pvt. Ltd (RSWPL), which headed the consortium that was awarded the franchise, agreed to reduce its stake from 26% to 10% under a new, last-minute proposal submitted to the IPL governing council, Manohar said.

Five investors in the Kochi IPL franchise were locked in a dispute with RSWPL, owned by the Gaikwad family, over control of the franchise.

Rendezvous’ stake included 25% sweat equity.

The other investors in the Kochi franchise are Anchor Group (27%), Parinee Developers (26%), Filmwaves (12%), Anand Shyam (8%) and Vivek Venugopal (1%).

Promoters have proposed renaming the franchise as Kochi IPL Cricket Pvt. Ltd, Manohar said.

When contacted by Mint, RSWPL chief executive officer Satyajit Gaikwad declined to comment.

“We will speak after BCCI takes the decision on December 5," he said.

According to a person closely associated with the Kochi IPL franchise who spoke on condition of anonymity, BCCI had asked the partners not to disclose any information to the media.

“The dispute has been resolved; a new shareholding pattern has been submitted to BCCI. The Gaikwads have also agreed to the demand that a board of directors in the new company will decide who will become the chief executive officer. And the investors have agreed to the inclusion of a new director, Dilip Kumar, in RSWPL."

A second individual connected with the franchise confirmed this development. Dilip Kumar is a Keralite businessman based in West Asia, the person said.

The Gaikwads have previously refused to forgo the sweat equity and the right to appoint the chief executive under the agreement of the unincorporated joint venture (UJV) of the consortium that won the Kochi franchise.

The UJV agreement reviewed by Mint categorically stated that at “no point of time the equity contribution of Investor 1 (RSWPL) shall fall below 25% notwithstanding infusion of additional funds in UJV from time to time".

This is the third lifeline extended by BCCI to the Kochi franchise.

The investors failed to reach an amicable settlement within the first deadline set by BCCI on 20 October. BCCI then set a 30-day deadline ending on 27 November.

Two other teams, Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab, have been expelled from IPL for alleged contractual violations.

Indranil Blah, chief operating officer of KWAN Entertainment and Marketing Solutions Pvt. Ltd that represents sports and entertainment figures, said the BCCI seemingly has “serious double standards".

“With the other franchises, there was a show cause notice issued and a fixed time line for expulsion whereas with the Kochi IPL (franchise), the decision is being continuously delayed," Blah said.

IPL, which became mired in controversies this year that led to the ouster of its commissioner and chairman Lalit Modi, remains one of the top sports properties in India despite the legal and ownership issues surrounding some of the teams.

As a series, IPL is valued at well over Rs1,500 crore in advertising money, according to industry estimates.