BCCI begins hunt for a replacement franchise

While the owners of the Deccan Chargers, whose IPL contract was terminated on Friday for violating the franchise agreement, expectedly took the legal recourse on Saturday, the BCCI went ahead and started planning to replace the Hyderabad franchise.

The Indian board, which had set a 5pm deadline on Saturday for the Chargers' owners to sort out the two major issues --- mortgaging the team and players' payments for IPL5 --- in an emergency meeting of the IPL governing council terminated the franchise agreement citing the Chargers owners' "inability to cure its breaches".

"Considering the stated position of the Deccan franchise to refuse to rectify the various defaults, including payments to players, foreign boards etc, as also the deleterious effect such conduct would have on the reputation of the IPL and the franchise itself, a decision was taken to forthwith terminate the Deccan Chargers franchise," BCCI secretary Sanjay Jagdale said.

It is learnt the BCCI hurried the move after coming to know that the Chargers were planning to move court to apply for interim relief. "Once we received the legal notice on Friday, it was clear that they were going to move court before their deadline expired. So, we became proactive and terminated the contract late in the night since all of us were convinced about their default," a BCCI insider told HT.

As a result, the Chargers were forced to seek a stay order against their termination in the Bombay High Court. "The counsels of both sides were present in court at 10:30am on Saturday. The court heard both the parties, and did not pass any order to stay the termination. The matter has been placed for hearing on Monday," Jagdale said on Saturday.

While the legal battle is likely to continue for some time, the Chargers players can heave a sigh of relief as the BCCI working committee has decided to bear the cost of the players' outstanding payment for the last IPL edition.

Though it is not clear whether the BCCI will make the payment from the Chargers' central pool money that was withheld, or would pay from their pocket, a board insider said that it was "agreed in principle that the players' interest will be taken care of on a priority basis".

Even though the marketing and the working committees dispersed without finalising the base price for the new owners, it was agreed that the new franchise could be from an eligible city other than Hyderabad.