IPL 8 on track but franchises remain edgy
The IPL was ready to induct two new teams if the situation demanded, IPL chairman Ranjib Biswal said in response to Supreme Court's wide-ranging order that has put a question mark over the future of Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals.
But the ripples were felt by the IPL franchises, who were worried about losing commercial partners if there was a delay to the auction. The auction for the eighth season is likely to be held from February 6 to 9, in Bangalore.
"We can have new teams. Absolutely, no problem. If they give out a punishment to bar them or something then we will have to look for an option," Biswal said.
But Biswal pointed out the BCCI would await the judgement of the three-member committee set up by the court to pronounce the punishment against the franchises as well as the pair of Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra, who were found guilty of betting. The new committee, headed by former Chief Justice of India RM Lodha, would endeavour to decide on relevant punishments at the earliest possible date, the court said.
According to Biswal, various issues including the auction dates for the IPL, which is scheduled to begin on April 8, will need to be discussed in a soon-to-be-called working committee meeting.
Despite his assurances, franchises remained on the edge. The auction, franchises were informed earlier, was likely to be held in the second week of February. "The only fear is what the three-man committee decides. What if the committee says the franchises should be terminated?," a franchises chief executive said. "How long will the auction be delayed based on that verdict. We are all waiting."
The official pointed out that franchises faced a big challenge if the auction date was delayed any further than mid-February. "The more flux is in the market, the more it scares our commercial partners to associate with us. Who loses? It is the franchises if everything is (pushed to) last minute."
Another relevant issue for franchises was what happens to the players from Super Kings and Royals in case their teams are terminated. "Would the IPL decide to bring back all the players into the auction fold like they did when Pune Warriors and Kochi Tuskers were terminated. Or would they follow the route of Hyderabad where Sunrisers Hyderabad took over the franchise once the original owner Deccan Chargers was abandoned," an official from a separate franchise asked.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo