The IPL has taken some significant steps to protect the interests of its eight franchises, including the addition of a performance clause to its player contracts that will see players lose 20% of their match fee - on a match-by-match basis - if they don't find a place in the playing XI from the next season. However, this clause will be applicable only to new contracts that will be signed from now on.
This was one of the key developments at a meeting, involving franchise representatives and IPL officials, which ended in Bangkok on Sunday. The meeting also resolved to hike the players' purchase cap from US$5 million to $7 million - this cap will not be applicable to the money that will be spent during a one-month trading window starting December 15 for existing players.
"This is a very significant development for the franchises," sources said. "This means that trading can be done for existing players with absolutely no budgetary limits."
The IPL, meanwhile, announced in a press release that it will hold its next players' auction in Mumbai on February 6. It had earlier been tentatively scheduled for January 29. The IPL also confirmed that the maximum number of foreign players in each squad has been increased from 8 to 10, though those in the playing XI will stay at four.
The meeting agreed to scrap the system of flying in players as temporary replacements, an allowance that saw cricketers like Dwayne Bravo, the West Indian allrounder, make a fleeting appearance in the first season early this year. But in a concession to the teams that had picked such players last time, the press release said that "all teams that had temporary replacements will have the first right to pick those players".
"The extra $2 million to purchase players is essentially for the new auction," sources said. "This will go a long way in levelling the playing field, especially with many of us expecting the English players to be available. The 10-player cap has also brought clarity to the field because there was an original limit of eight and then it was stretched to nine."
According to the sources, franchise can now offload players during the trading window - with the player's consent - but they will have to bear the difference to the player in case he is sold for less than his current fee. "On the other hand, if a player goes at an increased price, the difference will be shared by the selling franchise and the player," they said. The details of this arrangement are not known yet.
Franchises have also been assured more visibility on the ground, in terms of in-stadia visibility during matches, "while not infringing on the rights of the central sponsors".
The performance clause, incidentally, is also open to existing players but only if they sign new contracts. "It is doubtful how many of the existing players will agree to sign a new contract," the sources said. "But the idea behind the move is clear. It is a step for the future and will ensure that the money a franchise pays to a player is linked purely to performance, and nothing else." As per the previous arrangement, a player only needed to be "fit and available for selection" to be entitled to his full fee.
The meeting also heard views from various service providers involved with the first season of IPL to "ensure a better experience allround next time". "But on the whole the Bangkok meeting was held in an excellent, open atmosphere and it has left the franchises satisfied with the clarity achieved," the sources said. The 2009 IPL season has been tentatively scheduled to start from April 10.