We know now which teams are going to be in the semifinals of IPL 2017, but which teams are going to be playing in the 2018 season? The answer isn’t all that clear.
Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians are the two most profitable teams in the IPL and also those with the largest fan followings (only rivalled by that of Chennai Super Kings), so it’s little wonder that they are among the few who will definitely play IPL 2018 under their existing management. Sunrisers Hyderabad are also looking comfortable. Delhi Daredevils, Kings XI Punjab, and Royal Challengers Bangalore will also feature in IPL 2018, but there are rumours that the poor return on investment made in Delhi Daredevils and Kings XI will lead to partial or total buyout.
The remaining contenders are:
Chennai Super Kings
The Franchisee Agreement contains a one-sided ‘disrepute clause’ allowing the BCCI to terminate the Agreement if the “Franchise, any Franchisee Group Company and/or any owner acts in any way which has a material adverse effect upon the reputation or standing of the League, BCCI-IPL, the Franchisee, the Team (or any other team in the League) and/or the game of cricket.” This is a ridiculously wide clause, but the BCCI would nevertheless have been well within its rights to exercise it in the case of Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals. However, after initially terminating CSK and RR, the BCCI ultimately only suspended the Franchisees’ right to field a team in the League. BCCI CEO Rahul Johri has now reportedly confirmed that CSK and RR will replace Rising Pune Supergiant and Gujarat Lions. 1Nikhil, ‘BCCI CEO Rahul Johri confirms return of CSK, RR in IPL 2018’ CricTracker (1 May 2017) https://www.crictracker.com/bcci-ceo-rahul-johri-confirms-return-csk-rr-ipl-2018/; Dharmendra Pandey, ‘आइपीएल-11 से बाहर होंगी गुजरात लायंस व राइजिंग पुणे सुपरजाएंट : जौहरी’ Dainik Jagran (Bareilly, 29 April 2017) http://www.jagran.com/uttar-pradesh/bareilly-city-gujrat-lions-and-rising-pune-superjaints-will-not-be-in-action-in-ipl11-15941053.html
Franchisees have no assets: CSK’s primary assets, player contracts, were terminated by virtue of their suspension from the League, they owned no real estate and only had a right to sell tickets at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai and collect the majority of the revenue, and presently, the only asset remaining is the intellectual property and the goodwill generated. If CSK return, they may enjoy some fan following (which will translate into sponsorship and ticket revenue) even if their team lacks the stars that generated that following like Dhoni, Raina, Ashwin, Jadeja, and Bravo. However, if the same process is followed as when Rising Pune Supergiants and Gujarat Lions were introduced, CSK and RR could have first rights over the RPSG and GL’s players and get alternate picks in a draft system.
Like CSK, Rajasthan was initially terminated and subsequently placed in suspension. However, RR fares even worse than CSK, since it never had the same fan following, sponsor interest, or financial backing as CSK did. Further, while it was only Gurunath Meiyappan in CSK who was caught betting, three RR players were given life bans for fixing. Such negative press would obviously keep sponsors away, though there are rumours that the RP Sanjiv Goenka Group has bought Rajasthan Royals (see below).
The new franchises explicitly have a lifespan of two years, and also reportedly do not have any right of first refusal if the League is ever expanded to include more teams. Intex, which owns Gujarat Lions, have till now expressed no plans to be associated with the IPL from 2018. It seems that ownership of an IPL franchise for them was solely to promote the Intex brand, whose sales have multiplied in recent years, as well as for the personal prestige of the founders.
Rising Pune Supergiant
The R.P. Sanjiv Goenka Group (or the individuals behind it) have been been interested in owning an IPL team since before 2015. Though IPL 2018 won’t see Rising Pune Supergiant, the Group may still own a team. There were reported talks to buy Delhi Daredevils from GMR previously, and they could still float the acronym “RPSG” if they purchased the franchise rights from Jaipur IPL Cricket Pvt. Ltd. (the majority owners of Rajasthan Royals), though it could not be called Rising Pune Supergiant, and would have to be branded as a team from Jaipur/Rajasthan (it could even be “Rajasthan Royals” if they purchase the intellectual property rights from Jaipur IPL Cricket).
Kochi Tuskers Kerala
That’s right. Kochi Cricket Pvt. Ltd., the company which owns the Kochi Tuskers from Kerala (where else? Mexico?) have won in arbitration proceedings against the BCCI. As per the terms of the Franchisee Agreement, Kochi Tuskers was required to provide an unconditional bank guarantee as a performance deposit, which it failed to do. Kochi Tuskers stated that it was not in breach of the Agreement as the performance contemplated was in respect of 95 matches (in keeping with the contemplated 10 team tournament), whereas the suspension of two teams, Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals, had reduced the number of matches to only 74. The sole arbitrator, former Chief Justice of India, the Hon’ble Mr. Justice R.C. Lahoti, awarded Rs. 550cr in damages to Kochi Tuskers. The BCCI reportedly are not in a position to pay this amount.
The BCCI filed petitions to set aside the arbitral award, which are pending. 2Board of Control for Cricket in India v. Kochi Cricket Pvt. Ltd. ARBP 1752/2015, Bom. HC It also unsuccessfully challenged proceedings by Kochi Tuskers to enforce the award, and its appeal before the Supreme Court is pending. 3Board of Control for Cricket in India v. Kochi Cricket Pvt. Ltd. & Etc. S.L.P. (Civ.) 19545-19546/2016, SC Though the same is in issue before the Supreme Court and there are differing views on this, 4see Rendezvous Sports World v. Board of Control for Cricket in India 2016 SCCOnline Bom 6064; Ajay Mehra v. Enercon GmbH C.H.S.C.D. (L) 19/2017, Bom. HC, judgement of 02.03.2017; and Tufan Chatterjee v. Rangan Dhar AIR 2016 Cal 213, as against Ardee Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd. v. Anuradha Bhatia 2017 SCCOnline Del 6402 I am of the view that as per the law as it stood then, the award cannot be enforced while the petitions to set aside the award are pending. Nevertheless, with the narrow scope of challenge to arbitral awards, it would be a difficult task for the BCCI to have the same set aside, and the Rs. 550cr amount would eventually be payable.
It is reported that Kochi Tuskers are interested in securing re-entry into the IPL instead of the damages awarded, 5Amol Karhadkar, ‘Kochi Tuskers seek IPL re-entry after winning arbitration’ ESPNCricinfo (8 July 2015) <http://www.espncricinfo.com/india/content/story/895393.html> though the BCCI as of 2015 was opposed to this despite the huge sum they may potentially have to pay in damages. 6‘Rajeev Shukla rules out return of Kochi Tuskers Kerala’ Cricket Country (16 July 2015) <http://www.cricketcountry.com/news/rajeev-shukla-rules-out-return-of-kochi-tuskers-kerala-307047> So don’t count Kochi Tuskers out yet.
Pune Warriors India
Sahara Adventures Sports Ltd., which owned the Pune Warriors team, placed a whopping USD 370mn bid, to be paid over ten years. After the removal of two teams from the League, Sahara requested a reduction in franchise fees on account of the lower revenue that would accrue from a smaller number of games. The dispute was referred to the sole arbitration of former Supreme Court judge, the Hon’ble Mr. Justice R.V. Raveendran. 7Sahara Adventures Sports Ltd. v. Board of Control for Cricket in India Arb. Appl. 160/2013, Bom. H.C., order of 02.09.2014 As on September 2016, the arbitration is pending. However, if an award is passed in favour of Pune Warriors, as in the case of Kochi Tuskers, Pune Warriors may be in a position to negotiate re-entry in place of damages. However, given the speed of the legal process, this may not happen in time for the 2018 season.
The BCCI terminated its Franchisee Agreement with Deccan Chronicle Holdings Ltd., owner of Deccan Chargers after the latter’s failure to give a Rs. 100cr bank guarantee.
The dispute was submitted to arbitration before the former Judge of the Supreme Court, the Hon’ble Justice Mr. C.K. Thakkar, and as on September 2016, the proceedings are still pending. Deccan Chargers are reportedly very interested after hearing the result of the Kochi Tuskers arbitration. 8Jayanta Oinam, ‘Deccan Chargers takes cue from Kochi Tuskers, eyes IPL comeback’ Zee News (17 July 2015) <http://zeenews.india.com/sports/cricket/ipl/deccan-chargers-takes-cue-from-kochi-tuskers-eyes-ipl-comeback_1631593.html> Given that Deccan Chronicle Holdings Ltd. unsuccessfully tried selling the team 9S Bridget Leena and others, ‘Deccan Chargers’ auction scores a duck; lone bid is rejected’ Live Mint (Chennai/Hyderabad, 13 September 2012) <http://www.livemint.com/Companies/BfSFHMqwo2T2NUvlCPE8lK/Deccan-Chronicle-rejects-Rs900-crore-bid-for-Deccan-Chargers.html> and is having its assets auctioned to repay creditors, it is difficult at a glance to give credence to its legal claim, and such statements appear to only be tools to twist the BCCI into a cash settlement.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Nikhil, ‘BCCI CEO Rahul Johri confirms return of CSK, RR in IPL 2018’ CricTracker (1 May 2017) https://www.crictracker.com/bcci-ceo-rahul-johri-confirms-return-csk-rr-ipl-2018/; Dharmendra Pandey, ‘आइपीएल-11 से बाहर होंगी गुजरात लायंस व राइजिंग पुणे सुपरजाएंट : जौहरी’ Dainik Jagran (Bareilly, 29 April 2017) http://www.jagran.com/uttar-pradesh/bareilly-city-gujrat-lions-and-rising-pune-superjaints-will-not-be-in-action-in-ipl11-15941053.html|
|2.||↑||Board of Control for Cricket in India v. Kochi Cricket Pvt. Ltd. ARBP 1752/2015, Bom. HC|
|3.||↑||Board of Control for Cricket in India v. Kochi Cricket Pvt. Ltd. & Etc. S.L.P. (Civ.) 19545-19546/2016, SC|
|4.||↑||see Rendezvous Sports World v. Board of Control for Cricket in India 2016 SCCOnline Bom 6064; Ajay Mehra v. Enercon GmbH C.H.S.C.D. (L) 19/2017, Bom. HC, judgement of 02.03.2017; and Tufan Chatterjee v. Rangan Dhar AIR 2016 Cal 213, as against Ardee Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd. v. Anuradha Bhatia 2017 SCCOnline Del 6402|
|5.||↑||Amol Karhadkar, ‘Kochi Tuskers seek IPL re-entry after winning arbitration’ ESPNCricinfo (8 July 2015) <http://www.espncricinfo.com/india/content/story/895393.html>|
|6.||↑||‘Rajeev Shukla rules out return of Kochi Tuskers Kerala’ Cricket Country (16 July 2015) <http://www.cricketcountry.com/news/rajeev-shukla-rules-out-return-of-kochi-tuskers-kerala-307047>|
|7.||↑||Sahara Adventures Sports Ltd. v. Board of Control for Cricket in India Arb. Appl. 160/2013, Bom. H.C., order of 02.09.2014|
|8.||↑||Jayanta Oinam, ‘Deccan Chargers takes cue from Kochi Tuskers, eyes IPL comeback’ Zee News (17 July 2015) <http://zeenews.india.com/sports/cricket/ipl/deccan-chargers-takes-cue-from-kochi-tuskers-eyes-ipl-comeback_1631593.html>|
|9.||↑||S Bridget Leena and others, ‘Deccan Chargers’ auction scores a duck; lone bid is rejected’ Live Mint (Chennai/Hyderabad, 13 September 2012) <http://www.livemint.com/Companies/BfSFHMqwo2T2NUvlCPE8lK/Deccan-Chronicle-rejects-Rs900-crore-bid-for-Deccan-Chargers.html>|