The high-profile Indian Premier League (IPL) on Thursday an overwhelming response with some of India's top industrialists like Mukesh Ambani and Vijay Mallya and film stars Shah Rukh Khan and Preity Zinta winning bids to own teams in the Twenty20 venture.
After a prolonged suspense, BCCI vice president and chairman of the IPL governing council Lalit Modi on Thursday disclosed the names of the winning bidders, who shelled out staggering amounts to be owner of the city-based teams.
Reliance Industries chief Mukesh Ambani pipped Vijay Mallya to win the bid for the Mumbai team for $111.9 million. The liquor baron, however, won the bid for the Bangalore team for $111.6 million. Actor Shah Rukh Khan, joining hands with Juhi Chawla and Jay Mehta, won the bid for the Kolkata team for $75.09 million.
Fellow actor Preity Zinta and her boy friend Ness Wadia won the bid for the Mohali team for $76 million.
Among others, GMR Holdings won the bid for the Delhi team ($84 million), India Cements bagged the Chennai team ($ 91 million), Deccan Chronicle bid successfully for the Hyderabad ($107.01 million) outfit and Emerging Media won the bid for the Jaipur team for $67 million.
The bids of the ICICI, Sahara and Futures Group were disqualified, Modi said. "We can say that all the hard work fructified and the IPL is here to stay," Modi said.
Asked if Shah Rukh was bidding just to use cricket as a means to promote his films, Modi said, "Shah Rukh loves cricket and that's why he invested his money. It has got nothing to do with film promotion.
"We have heard similar complaint in the past but the Board never endorsed those views," he said. He also dismissed suggestions that there was a conflict of interests in Indian Cement, which has BCCI treasurer N Srinivasan as a shareholder, becoming a team owner.
"Mr Srinivasan is just a stakeholder there and he is not the owner. So there is no such conflicts of interests," he said. Modi admitted some of the contracted international players would skip the twenty20 tournament, which begins on April 18 owing to national commitments but said the pool was big enough.
"A team needs only four players from abroad and we already have a huge number of them contracted with us. You will have enough of them from the day one," he said.
In all, 59 matches would be played over 44 days with ICC umpires officiating the games, which would be broadcast live on SET Max, Modi said.
"We already have 80 contracted players and their auction would start soon," Modi said. Each franchise would consult with the IPL governing council before naming the teams and discussing revenue sharing, he said.
ICC's anti-doping and anti-corruption units would also keep an eye on the Twenty20 league, Modi said. Asked if the base price of $50 million was too high, he said, "It's upto the bidders to decide if the base price was high. Since the winning bid proved much more than the base price, you can't really say that it was too high."