The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is likely to issue a fresh tender for a Kochi team, as the current franchisee has written to the board expressing its intention to withdraw from the Indian Premier League (IPL).
However, BCCI did not specify whether Kochi has pulled out. BCCI Vice-President Rajiv Shukla confirmed that the board has received "certain letters" from the consortium's stakeholders and a final decision on the troubled team would be taken on November 28.
"I can only say the BCCI president has received certain letters from the Kochi stakeholders. A governing council meeting is scheduled to be convened on Sunday, where the matter will be discussed. Subsequently, whatever steps are to be taken will be taken," he said.
Indications of Kochi pulling out emerged through former Union minister Shashi Tharoor's tweets: "Delighted about Somdev DevVarman's second gold. Makes up for disappointing news, Kerala IPL team's apparent collapse after raising hopes yesterday."
Tharoor had to quit his ministerial post because of his involvement with the Kochi team.
With the Kochi franchisee's exit, there will only be seven teams in the reckoning for IPL next year. This could seriously discourage advertisers, who have committed Rs 600-700 crore for the upcoming IPL, as well as upset the tournament schedule.
Two teams -- Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab -- have already been expelled from the IPL due to a lack of transparency in their ownership structure. However, in March, BCCI auctioned two more teams, in which Sahara (for Pune) and Rendezvous Sports (for Kochi) won.
Top BCCI sources said investors in the Kochi franchisee have written to board President Shashank Manohar offering to withdraw from the league. The IPL governing council is slated to meet in Nagpur on November 28 to discuss the issue and consider floating a tender for a replacement.
The BCCI source said there would definitely be eight teams for IPL's fourth edition, scheduled to start on April 8, just six days after the World Cup.
BCCI had given the owners of the Kochi franchisee a 30-day window last month to sort out internal differences and come up with a shareholding structure. But the investors have been unable to resolve their differences. The deadline expires on Saturday.
Investors in the Kochi consortium include Anchor Earth, Parinee Developers, Rosy Blue and Film Wave, who hold 75 per cent of the equity.
The remaining 25 per cent has been given to the Gaekwad family as sweat equity for services rendered in successfully bidding for the franchise.
A dispute arose among the investors when various stakeholders in the franchise voiced their opposition to the 25 per cent free equity share for Rendezvous Sports. Satyajit Gaekwad had earlier said Rendezvous Sports would not back down from its 25 per cent holding, but was in the process of buying 12.5 per cent to placate the other investors.
The Kochi franchise was bought by the investors for $333.33 million (about Rs 1,476 crore) for 10 years.