The last time the Deccan Chargers played a ‘home’ game against the Mumbai Indians, the D.Y. Patil Stadium resonated with the chants of ‘Sachin’ and ‘Malingaaa’ — players from the opposing team.
The situation wasn’t so hopelessly stacked against the defending champions on Monday at the Vidharbha Cricket Association Stadium, but even this third “home” ground for the Chargers looked anything but the Bull’s bastion.
In contrast, teams like the MI, the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Royal Challengers Bangalore are enjoying the home support and have started building a fan base.
And that’s precisely why the Chargers had gone to the extent of threatening a pull-out when their home matches were shifted out of Andhra Pradesh. “Our client has developed an extensive fan base and loyalty towards the team that gets converted into gate receipts,” Chargers’ counsel had contended in the legal notice issued to the IPL.
Also, the sponsorships a franchise gets is directly proportional to the strength of their fan base. “Playing matches across the country may be good for the IPL, but it doesn’t help franchisees build a fan base,” said the Rajasthan Royals CEO Sean Morris.
The Royals too are playing four of their home games in Gujarat this year due to some administrative problems between the IPL and the Rajasthan Cricket Association. Though Ahmedabad falls in the catchment area of the Royals, Morris said they would have liked to play all their games in Jaipur.
“We are in the third year of the IPL and the franchisees have just begun to build a loyal fan base. I complete sympathise with the Chargers,” he added.