The IPL Working Group has all but ruled out the termination of Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals as it submits its report before the IPL Governing Council on Thursday. The Governing Council, which meets in Kolkata on Thursday, will in turn forward it to the BCCI Working Committee during its meeting here on Friday evening. The final decision rests with the Working Committee, which is the highest body of the board.
The BCCI formed a four-member Working Group comprising IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla, Board secretary Anurag Thakur, treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry and IPL governing council member Sourav Ganguly in the wake of the Lodha Committee verdict that suspended the owners of CSK and RR for two years. The Working Group, also assisted by the BCCI’s legal advisor UN Banerjee, worked on a six-week deadline and spoke to the franchise owners (the two banned franchises were not invited) and other stakeholders of the tournament.
According to sources, a couple of recommendations have been made in the report. The first one is to run the two teams under new management for two years. The other option is to invite fresh tenders for two new franchises, keeping CSK and RR in abeyance for two years. It will make the tournament a 10-team affair when the suspended teams return in 2018.
If the second recommendation is followed, the BCCI has to take a decision about accommodating the CSK and RR players. In an interview with The Indian Express last month, Justice Mukul Mudgal, who conducted the probe into the 2013 IPL spot-fixing and betting scandal, had suggested that loaning out the players to new franchises could be a better option. The Working Committee is expected to consider all these aspects.
“Six teams isn’t an option. The official broadcaster has dismissed it. Franchise owners and sponsors, too, have rejected it. Also, you can’t punish someone twice for the same offence. CSK and RR are already banned for two years,” a Governing Council member told this newspaper.
“Inviting tenders for two new teams is perhaps the safest option. It will make the IPL a 10-team event from 2018 onwards. We’ve the provision for 10 teams. In fact, we had it before, with Pune Warriors and Kochi Tuskers on the roster. We just have to check the legal side of it, because broadcast rights for the IPL expire after the 2017 edition.”
Court hearing looms large
CSK have already moved court against the suspension and a hearing at the Madras High Court is scheduled on Thursday. This is a reason why the Governing Council will meet at 8pm. Now that the matter has become sub judice, the BCCI is keeping an eye on the legal proceedings.
However, CSK’s plea at the Madras High court can affect the IPL Governing Council proceedings only if the court gives a stay order on the Lodha committee decision to suspend the franchise. A two-judge bench will hear the case and even though the BCCI is bullish that the petition doesn’t have any bearing on the Working Group’s recommendations, an interim stay order will force the board to defer its decision. The Cricket Association of Bihar, too, is involved and is likely to enter a plea, requesting the court not to entertain the CSK petition.
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