'It is Dhoni, Fleming and the support staff who decide on cricket.'
'The fans expect CSK to do well, and with Dhoni at the helm, CSK is capable of it.'
At a time when women's IPL is grabbing headlines, and amid media reports that M S Dhoni is expected to play his last match at Chepauk on May 14, Chennai Super Kings CEO Kasi Viswanathan talks to Shine Jacob/Business Standard about the reasons for staying away from the WIPL, plans to expand abroad through cricket academies and the investment roadmap.
Why did you stay away from women's IPL, and how will this introduction increase IPL brand value according to you?
Regarding women's IPL, we have to look at economic survival also.
At this point, we felt it might not be possible to do this.
If you look at it, the highest bidder is around Rs 1,200 crore (Rs 12 billion), which means around Rs 120 crore (Rs 1.2 billion) a year.
Economics doesn't work for us in this regard. That is one of the reasons.
We have entered the South African league and had other options, too, so we will wait.
There are only five franchises now, and it will likely go up later. Then, we may try.
It is a call that the board will take. You should also know that, finally, it boils down to economics.
In the long run, it will increase the brand value of IPL as a whole. There will be a consistent improvement in the performance of the women's team as well.
You have some land in Navalur on the IT corridor in Chennai, where the Tamil Nadu government plans to develop a Sports City. What are your plans regarding that?
We are planning to have a high-performance centre at Navalur. It will be a state-of-the-art academy, where we will have seven or eight wickets with different kinds of soil.
It will have other modern facilities, like a gym and clubhouse, of international standards.
We are planning for that, and initial works have been done.
I think it will take two years for us to complete the project.
We are in the process of finalising the details.
It may see an investment of around Rs 150 crore-Rs 200 crore (Rs 1.5 billion to Rs 2 billion).
How are you planning to take forward the Super Kings Academy?
We have been into cricket right from the 1960s. We thought we should get into coaching at the grassroots level. We have started coaching academies in Chennai and Salem.
In Tirunelveli, Hosur and Trichy, it will be coming up within two months.
We plan to have academies not only in Tamil Nadu, but across the country and abroad.
We plan to start an academy in Baroda (April-May) and England in July.
These projects that we have taken up now will help improve the brand over the next few years.
We are expanding the academy plan to have enough talent coming in.
What is the vision for CSK going ahead?
At some point in the years to come, you will only have T20 leagues worldwide.
Club cricket will overtake even bilateral series.
I feel that by 2030, CSK should be the leading franchise in the world as far as T20 cricket is concerned, and talent development is something we are betting on.
During the last financial year, your revenue increased by 38 per cent, but net profit was down. What were the reasons for this?
That was the year in which we played in Dubai and India. The cost increased sharply because of the pandemic and the requisite protocols that we had to maintain.
In Dubai, we were the only ones staying in an entire hotel, and that kind of facility had to be created because of the pandemic.
This resulted in operating expenses going up, which was one reason our profit came down. Two years in Dubai were really tough.
Our revenue went up because we won the trophy that year.
If you finish at the top and win, your revenue goes up.
On average, every franchise will make about Rs 250 crore-Rs 260 crore (Rs 2.5 billion to Rs 2.6 billion) in central revenue, which will go up to Rs 400 crore (Rs 4 billion) if you win.
The central revenue only includes payments from the BCCI, like media rights and sponsorship revenue.
Besides the BCCI payments, we have our sponsorships and ticket revenue and the revenue we generate through digital and social media.
We are happy to be called the first sports unicorn.
How are you planning to use Dhoni going ahead?
We don't use (CSK Captain Mahendra Singh) Dhoni for anything except for our sponsorship deals. We don't ask him to do anything out of the way.
We never interfere in the cricketing affairs of the team management.
It is Dhoni, (CSK Head Coach Stephen) Fleming and the support staff who decide on cricket.
The fans expect CSK to do well, and with Dhoni at the helm, CSK is capable of it.
We have been fairly consistent in our performance, except for two bad years.
Other than that, the team has done reasonably well.
Under his leadership, he gets the best out of the players, and we are pleased to have him.