The lengthy saga over the inclusion of the Kochi franchise in IPL4 has stretched into its second week, with BCCI president Shashank Manohar telling ESPNcricinfo that the board's lawyers would give them advice about the next course of action by the end of the week. The franchise's warring factions asked for a ten day extension to sort out their ownership disputes on Wednesday.
"Kochi's reply was received by our lawyers yesterday and will advise us accordingly," Manohar said, adding that the case against Kochi had no similarities with that of either Rajasthan Royals or King's XI Punjab teams whose franchises had been terminated at the end of the IPL's governing council meeting in Mumbai on October 10.
"Kochi have not breached any agreement, our issues with them are different," Manohar said. "They have huge differences between two groups of people in the franchise. They can't seem to agree on a central head and when the season begins, when we go into auctions and player agreements, we can't have two voices coming from one team, which is why they have been asked to sort out their issues."
Despite the anxiety of other IPL franchises over the league's future course of action, Manohar said the governing council had not decided when to meet to take a decision on the Kochi impasse. When asked whether the number of teams that would take part next season, and whether the termination of the Kochi franchise would mean a new auction, Manohar said, "You can speculate on anything, seven teams, eight teams, we will take the decision when the matter regarding Kochi has been settled."
The board president did not seem to believe that the player auction was an issue of any urgency. "An auction can take place at any time - all that has to be ensured is that players are available and signed on seven days before the first game."
The Kochi franchise has been controversial from its very inception in March. Rendezvous Sports World, a consortium of five companies, became the tenth IPL franchise after a successful bid of US$333.33m, but almost immediately ran into trouble over the composition of its ownership, after the discovery of a few "secret partners" in the consortium. A new agreement was then signed by both the parties but fresh controversy broke when Lalit Modi, the then IPL chairman, made the ownership details public on his Twitter feed.
Six months after the auction Kochi has still failed to resolve its various internal disputes, which revolve around the distribution of shares in the consortium. The investors are unhappy with the promoters, who do not want to give up the rights to lead the franchise. Despite several lengthy meetings over the past few days, the two factions remain at loggerheads.