The IPL mess December 28, 2010

Court halves Rajasthan's guarantee money

The Bombay High Court has halved the quantum of the security guarantee Rajasthan Royals will have to furnish towards player payments for the next two years and to cover their contract with the Indian board. The reduction - from $20.83 million to $10.63 million - will be accompanied by a lessening of the franchise's purse at next month's player auction.

Monday's order, by a vacation bench, altered in Rajasthan's favour the original decision of the same court on December 14. Justice S Vajifdar had then upheld the interim stay granted by the arbitrator against the termination of the franchise by the BCCI, but had asked Rajasthan to fulfil, by January 3, certain conditions including raising a guarantee of $20.83 million from a nationalised bank in India - $18 million to cover the players' salaries over the next two seasons and $2.83 million to cover any damages incurred by the BCCI in case the final ruling of the arbitrator went against the franchise.

In a fresh plea filed in front of Justice SJ Kathawalla on Monday, Rajasthan's counsel Janak Dwarkadas asked the court to slash the security guarantee since the franchise had retained two players - Shane Warne and Shane Watson - for a combined $3.1 million. To support his claim he produced affidavits filed by the Australian pair, stating they did not need any bank guarantee towards their payments from the franchise.

That effectively reduced the franchise's auction purse to $5.9 million but Rajasthan sought a further reduction, arguing that their average spend in the past three auctions was in the range of $3.9- 4 million.

"Our contention was we shouldn't be asked to pay $20.83mn but $10.63 million ($3.9 million per year for two years plus the $2.83 million BCCI guarantee)," Rajasthan's chief marketing officer Raghu Iyer told ESPNcricinfo. Kathawalla consented, with the assent of the BCCI lawyer, but retained the other conditions set by Vajifdar. The court had asked for the owners - Manoj Badale, Suresh Chellaram and Lachlan Murdoch - to file an affidavit stating that "they are in control of their respective investment companies", and to specify how they control these companies, by January 3, 2011.

The BCCI is unlikely to contest this latest judgment. One board official said the reduced auction purse would affect the franchise's ability to buy good players but Rajasthan's plan, it seems, is to tap into the development squads they have been grooming over the previous three years and retain some of the talent base there.

They are confident of their ability to raise a competitive squad. "If you studied our strategy at the previous auctions we have thought out our move always nicely," Iyer said. "Also with Warne, Watson and Darren Berry back in the loop we think we have our strategy will come right."

Another point that might favour Rajasthan is the fact that two other teams - Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings - have retained the maximum of four players and are now left with $4.5 million to assemble their squad. Rajasthan believe they are not far behind with the money at their disposal.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo