Stung by the suspension of Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals from the Indian Premier League, the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s top officials are working out a contingency plan to ensure that the high-profile league remains an eight-team affair.
They have already begun informal discussion on the way forward before the IPL Governing Council meets for an emergency session in Mumbai on Sunday.
IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla is scheduled to meet BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya late Wednesday evening and Thursday morning in Kolkata to discuss the implications of the Supreme Court-appointed Justice R M Lodha committee’s verdict.
The BCCI is keen to ensure that the cash-rich league remains an eight-team tournament as its contract with the broadcasters -- Multi Screen Media -- envisages a 60-match schedule.
"We have started discussions on the way forward. We have studied the Justice Lodha committee report, the Governing Council will discuss all aspects of this verdict and decide the future course of action," said a top BCCI official.
He added that the Board could possibly explore two options to ensure that the IPL remains an eight-team event.
"The BCCI can run the two teams for two years and the original owners can come back after the ban period is over. The other option is to invite fresh bids for two new teams since many corporates have expressed an interest in buying an IPL team."
A problem the BCCI could face if it invites bids for two new teams is an increase the number of teams to 10 after Chennai Super Kings and Rajastha Royals complete their ban period.
Drawing up a home-and-away basis schedule for 10 teams could drag the league well beyond its stipulated window of about six weeks.
Some members within the BCCI are keen to invite fresh bids since it will generate more money for the league.
The BCCI could run two teams, but it may not be economically viable since the entire cost of managing the teams and playing the players their salaries will have to be borne by it.
In case the BCCI invites bids for two new teams, all the players of CSK and RR will go back to the auction pool. Star players like Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Ravichandran Ashwin, Dwayne Bravo, Faf du Plessis, Shane Watson, Steve Smith, James Faulkner, Ravindra Jadeja, Brendon McCullum, Mike Hussey and Ashish Nehra will then be up for grabs again.
A fresh auction was supposed to be held before the 2017 IPL, but the current situation may drive the BCCI to have one before the scheduled time.
The storm was triggered by the suspension of CSK and RR and their top officials, Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra.
Meiyappan, a former Team Principal of the India Cements Ltd (ICL)-owned franchise CSK and Kundra, co-owner of Jaipur IPL that runs Rajasthan Royals (RR), were suspended for life from all activity conducted by the BCCI.
Seen as a clean-up of the mess following the worst scandal that broke out two years ago in the popular cricket league, the punishments were handed down by a three-member panel headed by former CJI R M Lodha which was asked by the Supreme Court to decide the quantum of punishments after finding them guilty of betting.
Shocked by the order, the owners of CSK, whose top players include top India players Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, held discussions with their lawyers and are planning to move the apex court against the panel's decision.
Similarly, the Rahul Dravid-mentored Royals, whose players include stand-in India captain Ajinkya Rahane and Stuart Binny, were also said to be planning moves to seek relief.
Since it is a Supreme Court-appointed committee, entrusted with the task of giving the quantum of punishment, experts feel the teams may not get the relief they expect.
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