IPL pads up for Bangkok meet
The future shape of the IPL will be decided in Bangkok over the next three days when league officials and representatives of the eight franchises meet to discuss several issues that will impact those involved. The issues include a possible upward revision in the US$5-million purchase cap for cricketers, a change in the limit of foreign players in a team and the fluctuating dollar rate that could affect player payments by some franchises.
While "kicking off the next season" of the hugely successful Twenty20 tournament, the meeting from October 17-19, the first of its kind after the hugely-successful first edition in April-June this year, will also finalise details of a possible player transfer window around December and a player auction in January ahead of the next season scheduled for April 10- May 29.
Lalit Modi, the IPL chairman, said the meeting would "address a range of issues including a review of the last tournament and share the experiences of various stakeholders". He, however, did not discuss the details of the meeting, except to clarify that "nothing has been finalised on the salary cap" and that the franchises were bound to honour their contracts with players.
"At this point, all I can say is that there will be many suggestions and any decision will be taken only at the meeting," said Niranjan Shah, the previous BCCI secretary and IPL's new vice-chairman.
Franchise representatives said they would discuss a proposal to raise the salary cap by US$2 million to help them gain from the next player auction with the availablity of more players from abroad, notably England. "Most of the teams, except Jaipur (it spent only US$ 3.3 million and picked up most of its players in the second, lesser-value auction), have neared the US$5-million cap already and can't spend any more on new players. Besides, the transfer window could see a lot of action and teams will look to have some cash in hand to spend on players who are available," said a franchise representative.
Another proposal to increase the number of foreign players in a squad, currently around eight or nine per team, to 10, may also be considered.
The discussion on the transfer window will also decide the fate of "unwanted" players - those who have not performed in the first edition or those who do not fit into the franchises' gameplan for the next. "If a franchise tries to sell a player but has no takers, even at a reduced price, does he remain in the squad or is he moved to a transfer pool so other franchises can still buy new players?," a representative said. "The franchise will still need to pay the player as most players have three-year contracts."
Another concern for the franchises would be the exchange rate situation which has led to an almost 20% difference in the value of foreign players. Also, while some franchises have been paying their foreign players in rupees, converted later to dollars, with Rs 40 as the conversion rate, a falling rupee has meant those players getting less than the original guaranteed sum in dollars.
"The problem lies in the two sets of contracts are in force for the IPL. While foreign players have signed 'dollar contracts' the Indian players contracts' are in rupee terms. The contentious point is that the franchise-IPL agreement specifies US$ 40 as the basis of all payments, while the franchise-player contracts are silent on the conversion rate," a representative said.
Officials associated with the IPL, however, maintained that if the franchise had signed a dollar contract, it was bound to stick to the terms, irrespective of the rate. "Besides, this is an issue that can cut both ways. What if the dollar drops to Rs 36, won't the franchises stand to gain?" an official said.
Though the franchises dismissed talks of forming an association to put forward their views forcefully before the IPL governing council, they will be expecting a lot of answers in Bangkok which will be key to their strategies as they pad up for another season of the IPL.
Ajay Shankar is deputy editor of Cricinfo