BCCI cancels controversial Kochi consortium’s IPL franchise

The Kochi Tuskers Kerala franchise has lost its place in the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket competition after failing to make its annual payment, the Board of Control for Cricket in India announced on Monday.

Kochi, run by the Kochi Cricket consortium, joined the IPL along with Pune Warriors last season, but the team has been dogged by ownership controversy since its launch. The consortium is reported to have defaulted on an annual payment of Rs1,560 million (US$33 million) as a bank guarantee, meaning the tournament has seen the number of teams cut from 10 to nine. Following its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Monday, the BCCI added that the IPL’s governing council would decide whether to have another auction for a new franchise.

“Because of the irremediable breach committed by the Kochi franchise, the BCCI has decided to encash the bank guarantee in their possession and also terminate the franchise,” said new BCCI president Narainswamy Srinivasan. “The governing council of the IPL will announce more details later.”

Kochi chairman Mukesh Patel insisted the consortium would challenge the ruling. “The BCCI notice is wrong,” Patel told the Times of India. “We will take legal action against them after our legal team reviews the case in a day or two. Maybe we have to move court. We have never defaulted…The number of games in tender document was 94, they then reduced it to 74 but did not reduce the franchise fees.”

Kochi’s ownership set-up was first brought into question by former IPL chief Lalit Modi, who questioned on Twitter why 25% of the franchise had been handed to a group that included Sunanda Pushkar, who went on to marry India’s then Junior Foreign Minister, Shashi Tharoor. Tharoor later resigned amid allegations of corruption in the bidding process, although he has always maintained that his only with was to bring a team to his constituency of Kerala.

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