For Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals, Tuesday's judgement was far worse than the franchises expected and the initial reaction was to hunker down, close ranks and reflect on the situation rather than react. Speculation abounded in the absence of any official comment from either franchise, including rumours that suggested the franchises might be up for sale, but it seems whatever decisions are to be taken will be done after consideration and not in a knee-jerk manner.
As the initial shock wore off concerns shifted to the huge hit the franchises' brand identity would have taken. The immediate impact of Super Kings' suspension, for instance, was felt in the stock market as India Cements' share price dipped in the afternoon. Later in the day Aircel, one of Super Kings' key sponsors, said in a statement that it was "reviewing our position in the matter [its association with the team]."
One senior Super Kings official, however, said they had not once entertained thoughts of giving up the team. "You know, we have worked very hard to nurture the team over eight years," he said. "Besides, will anyone even come up to buy the team now? We will never sell the team."
The official swiftly dismissed as rumour news of Super Kings appealing against the order. "All that you have been hearing and reading are rumours," he said. "We haven't taken any decision and neither will we arrive at anything without consulting our in-house legal counsel. We will be sitting down to discuss this in a day or two. The pros and cons of an appeal will have to be considered. We are not in a hurry."
The official, however, admitted that the outcome was "shattering."
"We were trying to brace ourselves for this as everyone was talking about a possible suspension. But we didn't expect to be suspended for two years. In that way, it has been very disappointing," the official stated.
The Royals management, meanwhile, were nervous ahead of the announcement in the morning, but slipped into a huddle soon after. It is understood they, too, are in consultation with their legal team to study the different aspects of the order.
"I thought we would get away," one Royals source said. "I don't know whether it was the heart thinking or my head. So, the suspension was a bit of a shock."
The biggest impact, as the Super Kings official said, would be on the brand identity. George John, manager, marketing and operations, Chennai Super Kings Cricket Limited, said it was too early to speculate on how much the team will be hurt on the sponsorship front. He, however, said sponsors had not abandoned them even in the wake of the 2013 spot-fixing scandal that saw top Super Kings official Gurunath Meiyappan being arrested.
"We have never had any problem with our sponsors," John told ESPNcricinfo. "They have always stood by us. They know what we stand for."
Brand consultant Harish Bijoor felt while the reputation of the two teams had corroded, advertisers and broadcasters were unlikely to pay a huge price. "They are all fair weather friends," Bijoor said of advertisers and broadcasters. "Their money is totally protected, their contracts are reasonably waterproof to protect themselves against these things. Contracts are clean and sharp. The only people who suffer are the two franchise owners.
"Please note that the recommendations are that these two teams don't play for two years. It's quite likely that many of the stars of these teams are likely to be figuring in other teams. Two or three teams, theoretically, might come into the IPL. End of the day, the net count of the matches will remain the same if not go up. Nobody loses except the franchises."
Bijoor said it was the end of the road for both Super Kings and Royals as brands, "even if not legally." "Brands have morality elements. The real custodian of the brand is the viewer. The problem is this brand is not like EPL. It is not as old as a Manchester United is, or as old as a Chelsea is. And loyalties are portable. People will take their loyalties to a new brand. At the end of the day, nobody is wedded to a team as much as to a [MS] Dhoni or a [Suresh] Raina or a [Rahul] Dravid."
He suggested that the teams re-brand themselves if and when they come back into the league, either after the term of suspension or after a change in ownership: "Brands enjoy positive karma and negative karma. This is a bit of negative karma as far as these brands are concerned. Changing the name, the ownership, the entire ethos and putting together a set of corporate governance laws will change that. It has to be an amalgam of many things. It's a brand restructuring guy's delight."