Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
The auction for the IPL Deccan Chargers franchise on Thursday has ended in an anti-climax with the team's owners rejecting the sole bid they received. This leaves the franchise's future up in the air, with the BCCI 's working committee meeting on Saturday likely to take a decision on its next course of action.
The solitary bid reportedly came from PVP Ventures, a company that finances film projects in India. No details were made public but reports said the offer was for Rs 900 crore ($164 million). Only three bidders had evinced interest to buy the Chargers: besides PVP Ventures, RPG Group and Jaypee Group also bought the bid document. However on the day of the auction only PVP turned up.*
"They [the franchise] informed us that the price and terms were not suitable so they did not accept it," BCCI president N Srinivasan said in Chennai. "The BCCI assisted the Deccan Chargers and we also looked at the eligibility criteria, whether they were fit and proper. We found that the party was acceptable to us. After that, though, it was between Deccan Chargers and the bidder."
Today's development puts the ball squarely back with the BCCI, which could conceivably terminate the agreement with Chargers and put the players on the auction block. Though no decision has formally been taken, it is understood that the board has lost patience with Deccan Chronicles Holdings Limited (DCHL). Its plan for the way forward could include terminating the contract with Chargers and floating a tender to add a new team to the IPL. There would be a shortlist of cities for the bidders to choose from, with the location of the new franchise to be decided by the highest bid for one of those cities.
"DCHL have been been found out for various violations," a board official told ESPNcricinfo. "The BCCI tried to pitch in and help but that has not proved useful. The board needs to protect the IPL model and a new franchise can only enhance the IPL."
If the board does scrap Chargers' contract then it will encash the bank guarantee of the franchise to settle the dues of the players. Most players and coaching staff are reportedly yet to receive 85% of their contracted amount.
A positive outcome today could have changed that but it is understood that while DCHL were happy to go with the offer, the company's lending banks, rejected it. "The lenders [banks] and the owner [DCHL] could not come to an agreement over the mode of payment proposed by the bidder," the official said.
The official said the banks were not happy with PVP's plan to divide the bid amount in two parts over the next ten years. "They said they would pay Rs 450 crores ($82 million) in the next five years, at the rate of 90 crore per annum, and the rest in 2022," the official said. The banks' reluctance, the official said, could stem from the fact that they stood to receive the sale proceeds - which, in this case, would be staggered.
Last month, the banks had knocked on the BCCI's doors to help them out, after which the board had set a deadline of September 15 for Chargers to clear all their dues including player payments and report with a clean slate. However, DCHL said they were unable to sort out the problems and, after seeking the board's intervention, placed an advertisement announcing that the franchise was for sale.
The board official said that Chargers still had two days' time to figure out their final decision: "The [BCCI] decision could depend on what the Chargers report on Saturday."
Thursday's development is a harsh reality check for the IPL, whose valuations across several properties and deals had brought the BCCI, its owners, more than $2 billion. Mumbai Indians were the costliest franchise at $111.9 million in the first team auction in 2008, with Chargers third at $107 million; just two years later, the Sahara group successfully bid $370m for Pune Warriors while the Kochi franchise, now dissolved, fetched $333 million.
Now, however, franchises are experiencing operational difficulties vis-à-vis the IPL. Chargers and Royal Challengers Bangalore have delayed payments to their players; some franchises with multiple owners are reported to be looking at selling stakes to raise funds.
* September 13, 19.30 GMT This story has been updated with the details of potential bidders