NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: India’s cricket board sent the Indian Premier League, its multi-billion dollar 20-over cricket property, into a tailspin on Sunday when it terminated the franchisee agreements of two teams, leaving a trail of unanswered questions about the logistics of the tournament’s next season, scheduled for April 2011 and setting the stage for what could be a protracted legal battle.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India, or BCCI, said in a statement that it has unanimously decided to terminate the agreements with Rajasthan Royals (Jaipur IPL Cricket) and Kings XI Punjab (KPH Dream Cricket) due to breaches of their contracts with the cricket board. Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab, both seen to be close to the board’s embattled former official Lalit Modi, have participated in all the three editions of the tournament. Royals won the inaugural edition of IPL, which has since grown to be a formidable sporting property and marketing platform.
According to a person familiar with the situation, BCCI sought legal opinion from India’s attorney general Goolam E Vahanvati (who advised the board in his capacity as a senior counsel of the Supreme Court and not as the country’s top law officer) and Chennai-based law firm Raman and Associates. The legal opinion was that the two teams were in blatant violation of the franchise agreements and that the board could terminate the agreements without issuing a show-cause notice if need be.
UB Group chairman Vijay Mallya, who owns the Royal Challengers Bangalore franchise, hit out against the board’s decision on Twitter . “This is downright ridiculous and raises serious questions on the attitude of BCCI towards IPL franchisees. I wonder if IPL franchisees are serious stakeholders whose investments and participation are respected or are they slaves who only come and play?”
Lalit Modi, the suspended commissioner of IPL, lashed out at the decision. “It breaks my heart to see my great vision being destroyed. I don’t care who runs it, Game must be protected first and foremost,” Mr Modi said on Twitter. Both teams were found guilty by the board of transferring the ownership after the franchise was awarded, which is against contractual norms. In the case of Rajasthan Royals, the person said, the board has still been unable to identify the real owner of the team from the documents provided. Both teams were found to be in violation of a clause in the eligibility criteria, which stipulated that teams could not change ownership within three years of being awarded the franchise.
“The Governing Council sought legal opinion and came to the conclusion that the contracts of the Rajasthan and Punjab franchisees need to be cancelled for the violation of the franchise agreement,” BCCI president Shashank Manohar told the media in Mumbai. The fourth edition of the IPL, scheduled to begin in April 2011, was supposed to have 10 teams, with new teams from Kochi and Pune participating. The Kochi team, which was awarded to a clutch of investors without a legally incorporated body, has also been asked by BCCI to form a company within 10 days. With two teams disqualified, the tournament will likely have just eight teams, unless the board decides to hold fresh team auctions in the near future.
The termination also leaves a number of sponsors of the two teams out in the cold. The ousted franchisees expressed shock at the BCCI decision. “We have always conducted ourselves transparently in accordance with our contract terms and only desire fair and unbiased treatment from BCCI. If the only way to achieve this is through legal recourse, then that is a shame for those who seek to invest in sport in India,” Rajasthan Royals said in a statement. Suresh Chellaram, one of the owners of the team, is the brother-in-law of Lalit Modi, who is now facing government investigations for violations of foreign exchange rules. The Enforcement Directorate has issued a so-called ‘Blue Alert’ against Modi, who is now facing the prospect of his passport being revoked.
“KXIP strongly believes that this decision is unfair and not in the collaborative spirit which the IPL has operated in. Kings XI hopes that the BCCI will engage in a productive dialogue to resolve all misunderstandings,” the team said in a statement. Mr Modi’s step son-in-law Gaurav Burman owns part of the team. “After working so hard in the IPL & putting my everything building this team, this is not what I expected! Shocked!” actor Preity Zinta , a co-owner of the team, wrote on Twitter. Shilpa Shetty, whose husband owns a stake in Rajasthan Royals, also expressed similar sentiments.
Tendulkar, Vijay make it India’s day
nVijay falls after maiden test century
nTendulkar remains on course for sixth double century
BANGALORE, (Reuters) - Milestone man Sachin Tendulkar struck an unbeaten 191 and starred in a marathon 308-run stand with Murali Vijay to fuel India’s robust reply in the second test against Australia on Monday.
A day after crossing 14,000 test runs, Tendulkar lit up third day’s play with his 49th test century while Vijay (139) registered his maiden on a belter of a track to help India reach 435 fore five wickets at close.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (11) was giving company to Tendulkar at stumps with India, who lead the two-match series 1-0, 43 runs behind Australia’s first innings total of 478.
Tendulkar hit a sparkling 319-ball knock studded with 20 fours and two sixes to remain on course for his sixth double century. Resuming on 128 for two, both Tendulkar and Vijay, who was reprimanded by match referee Chris Broad for wearing too many logos on his pad on Sunday, made the most of a highly productive morning session when boundaries flowed from their blades. Tendulkar hit Nathan Hauritz for a six to reach 99 and repeated the treatment in the off-spinner’s next over to bring up his ton and trigger boisterous celebrations at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium.
While team mates, opponents and the crowd applauded his feat, Tendulkar took off his helmet, raised the bat, looked skywards and then closed eyes in a silent prayer.
Vijay took a more conservative way to reach his century mark, with a single off Peter George, but was more expressive in celebration, jumping and punching the air. Mitchell Johnson finally broke the partnership, India’s highest third wicket stand against Australia, in the final session when he dismissed Vijay and debutant Cheteshwar Pujara (four) in the same over.