The suspense over the owners of the two new IPL franchises, necessitated by the two-year suspension of Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals, ends on Tuesday afternoon when the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) opens tenders in New Delhi. Even though this isn’t an auction for players, the potential owners’ bids are likely to be influenced by the IPL’s most-endorsed player and cricket’s biggest brand, MS Dhoni.
The reason for this is the reverse auction by which the team that submits the lowest bid will have the first right to pick the player of its choice from among the group of elite CSK and RR cricketers. The IPL tender, which The Indian Express possesses, says: “The Team which submitted the lowest bid in response to the invitation to tender will have the right to choose the first player in the Player Draft.”
It also talks about the possibility whereby the lowest bids are equal. “In the case of tied equal lowest Bids the names of the two teams will be placed in sealed envelopes… A designated authority from BCCI will choose one of these envelopes with the team being chosen having the first right to select a player in the player draft.” In a reverse auction, the buyer puts up a request for a required good or service. Sellers then place bids for the amount they are willing to be paid for the good or the service, and at the end of the auction the seller with the lowest amount wins.
Sources in the BCCI say companies like Intex, Chennai-based cement companies Chettinad Group and ITW, Haldiram Foods International, RPG of Sanjiv Goenka Group, DoIt Sports promoted by Yes Bank chairman Rana Kapoor and family, DHFL, Videocon, and media entrepreneur Ronnie Screwvala’s Unilazer have shown interest in the two new IPL teams for the next two years. The cities offered to two new IPL teams are Chennai, Cuttack, Dharamsala, Indore, Kanpur, Nagpur, Pune, Rajkot, Ranchi and Visakhapatnam.
Many in the BCCI feel that the potential to be associated with big brands like Dhoni is one reason for the buzz around the team auction. On December 15, the top 10 players from the two teams will go on sale at the Player Draft where CSK and India T20 skipper Dhoni is likely to be first choice of the franchise. A regular on the Forbes’ list of highest-paid sportspersons, Dhoni has had a big role to play at India Cements, the company that owns CSK, becoming a popular brand around the country.
A top BCCI official says this is an opportunity to capture Dhoni. “No one would have imagined Dhoni would part ways with CSK. In the earlier regime, CSK owner and BCCI president N Srinivasan saw to it that a player’s retention clause was inserted. Now suddenly, so many players are available.”
Other players who the new franchise will have a chance to buy are R Ashwin, Ravinder Jadeja, Ajinkya Rahane, Brendon McCullum and Shane Watson. As per the tender, the first capped player will be paid Rs 12.5 crore while the remaining four capped players will get Rs 9.5 crore, Rs 7.5 crore, Rs 5.5 crore, and Rs 4 crore. This in effect means a franchise can get Dhoni for Rs 12.5 crore. For an uncapped player it will be Rs 4 crore while the total salary cap for the team is about Rs 66 crore.
There also happens to be a clause in the tender document that doesn’t allow the teams to use names of present or suspended franchises. “New franchises cannot use the name IPL, BCCI, Rajasthan, Royals, Chennai, Super Kings or any resembling name. This is done since the Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals aren’t totally out of IPL, they will return after two years and we wanted to protect their brand,” said a BCCI official.
The Indian cricket board will make money from the reverse auction because it won’t have to share the broadcast revenues. It’s also a beneficial situation for franchises, because not only will they get a big name like Dhoni but unlike other older franchises, they don’t have to cough up too much money in terms of franchise fees.