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April 23, 2013
The IPL could carry out important changes next year with its auction conducted in rupees instead of dollars and for the first time including, in some manner, uncapped Indian players. These would be welcome changes, according to Venky Mysore, the Kolkata Knight Riders CEO, but he has voiced strong concerns about the conduct of the IPL and said the league's administrators need to be more open and responsive to the franchises and work hard closely with them.
Asked on ESPNcricinfo's daily video show The Huddle a wish he would like the IPL to fulfill, Mysore said it would be to make the franchises more profitable and help them stand on their legs. "The financial viability of the franchises has to be uppermost on the mind of the league. Sorry to be a bit blunt, but at times I have felt that is not necessarily the case," Mysore said. "The reason is stakeholders come into various businesses for passion. They have a vision and it fits into that, but you do not want them waking up one day and wondering what am I doing in this business. And that would happen if they are bleeding."
With player contracts expiring end of this season, franchises are getting ready for an overhaul with majority of the players - both capped and uncapped, including domestic Indian players - going to the auction. Mysore said the IPL would need to be transparent about the auction rules, especially on the point of retention. In 2011, the IPL had allowed every franchise to retain a maximum of four players with the rest returning to the auction. "Auction issue is big. While we really did not retain anyone in 2011, now we have an opportunity and we are certainly keen depending on what the rules are going to be. We are campaigning for saying retention is a must. If there is a precedence that says four, we are even happy to support more than four," he said.
With the salary cap increasing every year, Mysore warned the IPL needed to be more disciplined while deciding on the purse amount. At this year's auction, held in February, every franchise had a $12.5 million purse. Mysore also recommended the IPL to have the player salaries converted into Indian rupees instead of the prevalent dollar. "The reason for that is over the last two-and-a-half years the currency has depreciated almost 25-30%. So when you convert $12.5 million into rupees the salary cap has grown 500% (sic). No business can survive on that basis," Mysore said. According to him, the IPL has told him that 2014 auction would be rupee-based.
Another deterrent to an open auction has been the perception that the IPL rules are not set in stone and are flexible while favouring certain powerful franchises. Why then would they not operate as one while voicing their concerns? "That perception (of certain franchises taking advantage) does exist and as the saying goes, over a period of time perceptions do become reality. But there can be a spirit of co-operation. We are not a large league. We are nine teams. And everyone pretty much gets along with everybody from what I've seen. The recommendations that we make are certainly for the benefit of the entire league if not only the franchises. But somehow there is a certain sense of concern of quality or security on the part of the IPL," he said.
As an example, Mysore cited the case of asking the IPL permission to allow the franchise to play exhibition games overseas last year. "They got off the block a little bit and said yes, but what they also said was we go and play an Associate country," Mysore said. But according to him, playing in Ireland, Scotland, Canada was not economically feasible. As a solution he suggested to allow two franchises to play against each other in an Associate country, but the IPL showed reluctance once again. Mysore is still not losing hope. "I can see there is more openness, although not enough for our liking, but it is slowly coming in."
A grey area franchises have exploited in the past is signing an uncapped Indian domestic player, who has never been part of the auction unlike his overseas counterpart. Uncapped Indian players are paid a maximum of Rs 30 lakh ($55,300 approx) with the IPL reasoning that inflating the salary would corrupt the youngsters. However, according to Mysore it is another way of bending the rules. "There are ways in which you can control the value that is "thrown" at a player. Whenever you do price control, people always find ways to get around it and we are a very creative bunch," Mysore said.
Offering a solution, Mysore felt a good way out was to put the Indian uncapped domestic players as a group at the back-end of the auction. "Everyone who left the auction in 2011 had roughly between $400,000-500,000 (of the purse money) left to sign up Indian uncapped boys. Pretty much the same thing could happen next year. In the process there might be one or two players who might command a high fee. So be it. At least the market forces will be at work rather than the circuitous routes taken in 2011 (by franchises). There were allegations like someone paying someone's brother-in-law a car or a mother-in-law a house to overcome the rules. That is silly."
He remained confident though, having been assured by the IPL about plugging that loophole. "I am told that in the next auction Indian uncapped boys will also come into the auction."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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