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The Kochi plot thickens

cricket Updated: Oct 28, 2010 02:31 IST
Amol Karhadkar
Amol Karhadkar
Hindustan Times
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Kochi may have got an extension of 30 days, but there seems no light at the end of the tunnel for the cricket crazy fans of Kerala. The IPL governing council felt the stalemate between the two warring factions existed even on Wednesday.

"The factions are still unwilling to give up anything," a top BCCI official, preferring anonymity, told the Hindustan Times on Wednesday. "It appears we are dealing with two groups running parallel to each other."

While the Gujarati lobby – which has 74 per cent stake (rest is controlled by Rendezvous Sports World) – preferred to wait for the BCCI's action after submitting their reply last Wednesday, the Gaikwads made a last-ditch effort late on Tuesday night, "begging" more time through a letter to the BCCI president Shashank Manohar.

"They reiterated what they have been saying all along, but that letter doesn't have anything to do with the governing council's decision," the BCCI official said. "There can't be a breach of the franchise agreement by Kochi team since it's yet not fully formed. So the governing council had no choice but to give them a 30-day extension as per the franchise agreement."

Despite the claims made by both the factions that they were close to reaching a settlement over 25 per cent sweat equity held by RSW, there appeared no amicable solution in sight until Wednesday night.

While the RSW remains adamant on retaining 26 per cent stake (including one per cent paid equity), the Gujarati lobby doesn't want them to walk away with more than 10 per cent, including the sweat equity. Though the RSW representatives have been offering to bring in a "Dubai-based investor" to buy out 12.5 per cent of their sweat equity, the Gujarati lobby is "completely opposed" to the idea of "bringing in a new investor".

The only solution for the franchise to escape axing is that one of the groups walks out of the venture. "That's the only feasible option. Otherwise, as the president (Shashank Manohar) said, the Kochi franchise will have to wind up in a month's time," the official said.

Player auction in January
Whether the Kochi consortium gets its act together or not, the player auction is set to be held in the second week of January. "This would give all the teams enough time to prepare for the auction, irrespective of the fact whether Kochi is replaced by a fresh tender process or not," a BCCI official said.

Other teams "concerned"
The decision to defer the Kochi verdict by another month has made other team managements worried about their team's performance in IPL-4, which will be played in April-May 2011.

"We may end up with very little time to prepare for the tournament," said a top official of a south India based franchise. "We may end up starting afresh just like in IPL-1 with the players little time."

As the Kochi cookie began to crumble, others fell too