“Haven’t the players brought it upon themselves? Did MS Dhoni not lie that Gurunath Meiyappan is an enthusiast? He should pay for it.”
This is the hardliners’ view on the Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals players, who have been left in the lurch after their respective franchise owners were suspended for two years.
While there are some who don’t care much about the participation of CSK and RR players, the scenario is not that simple.
We are not talking about just any other cricketer. It’s a star cast of crowd-pullers. We are talking about the aura of India skipper Dhoni, New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum, Steve Smith, Suresh Raina, Ajinkya Rahane, R Ashwin and Shane Watson, among others.
It’s also not merely a question of the players, who stand to lose million dollar contracts for the next two years unless the BCCI comes up with a bailout plan. The Indian cricket board has its own interests. Sans these names, the BCCI’s cash cow will be seriously depleted. As Sunil Gavaskar declared, he can’t imagine an IPL without Dhoni. CSK and RR are two of the most successful sides and selling the league without them will be a challenge.
Apart from a loss of face, the BCCI has been left to deal with a lot of issues: the least of them is how to find teams for all the affected players. Experts feel a six-team IPL is simply not enough to protect the interest of stakeholders.
Senior BCCI member Niranjan Shah, who has been with the league from its inception as second-in-command to Lalit Modi, said a simple solution will be to have two new teams.
“The IPL was always based on a minimum eight-team concept. The simple solution will be to invite tenders for two new teams. All the players (of CSK and RR) should be put in regular auction where they will be picked again,” said Shah, now a member of BCCI’s marketing and programme and fixtures committee.
“A six-team IPL means running the risk of seeing revenue generated from most sources, including the media and broadcast rights, being reduced to half,” Shah added.
A worst case scenario could be the two franchises continue to pay their annual fees and not release their players but keep paying them as well.
The BCCI, however, wouldn’t want CSK and RR’s involvement at all as the franchises might also ask for their share of revenue from the central pool.
One option could be the franchise owners transferring their rights to a new owner, but it’s a complicated procedure which will also require the BCCI nod. It’s also going to be tricky as not many corporate houses may be eager to put their money in a sullied event any more.