Kochi will field a team in the IPL from 2011. Quirk of fate has eventually fulfilled the whim of a consortium of businessmen, majority of them from Mumbai, to own an IPL franchise in the form of Kochi Cricket Pvt. Ltd.

Though the consortium of investors won the bid at $333.33 million for ten years in Chennai on March 21, it was only on Sunday that the IPL Governing Council endorsed the consortium as an incorporated venture and a legal entity and formalised its entry into the IPL Twenty20 tournament from 2011.

Kochi will become the fourth team from Southern India to field a city-based team; the other three teams being Chennai Super Kings, Royal Challengers, Bangalore and Deccan Chargers, Hyderabad.

BCCI Secretary, N. Srinivasan said in a statement, “the IPL Governing Council confirmed that the Kochi franchisee had satisfactorily responded to the notice issued to them by the BCCI and decided that the franchisee, Kochi Cricket Pvt. Ltd., would play in the IPL from 2011 onwards.”

The story

A Kochi team in the league appeared dim on November 23, when the majority of investors in the consortium informed the BCCI that they are withdrawing their franchise. The disappointing news even evoked a tweet from Shashi Tharoor saying, “the dream is over for now. Those who didn't want a Kerala IPL team have finally succeeded. Some of us have paid a high price for trying.”

The consortium had given the BCCI a bank guarantee of $33 million (10 % of the winning bid) as franchise contribution for the 2011 competition and a further performance guarantee sum of Rs. 46 crore, but a rift — on who would control and run the team — between the majority shareholders and the Rendezvous Sports World (RSW) that held 25 per cent sweat equity, did not help matters.

The majority group had even initiated talks with Geoff Lawson, former Australian fast bowler and coach of Pakistan.

Turn of events

Things changed dramatically between November 24 and 26 with RSW agreeing to reduce their stake and to a new share-holding pattern. The eleventh hour settlement enabled the six investors to convince the BCCI and the IPL GC that they had restructured the share-holding pattern and Chintan Vora would be the point-man of the franchise in the future.

Kochi Cricket Pvt. Ltd. has also passed a resolution that investors holding 5 per cent stake and more will get a representation in the Board that will oversee the running of the franchise team. The share-holding companies and individuals in the Kochi franchise are: Anchor Earth, Parinee Developers, Film Waves, Anand Shyam Real Estate, Vivek Venugopal and RSW. The Kochi franchise is expected to spend in excess of Rs. 200 crore for 2011. This includes a sum of Rs. 150 crore towards franchise contribution to the BCCI.

People connected to the franchise team operations feel that Kochi has to be prepared for a Rs.100 crore deficit in each of the first four years. “It's the same with the Pune franchise,” said a BCCI official.

Sahara, which owns the Pune franchise, starts with a franchise contribution of Rs. 165 crore.

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