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Game & commerce

Print edition : May 21, 2010 T+T-
ROYAL MESS By Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta

IN the ongoing tussle between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Lalit Modi, who has been suspended as chairman and commissioner of the Indian Premier League (IPL), Rajasthan Royals is the franchise that has caught the most attention. Most of the allegations against the Royals were regarding the alleged irregularities in its ownership structure.

Following Income Tax Department raids on the office of the Royals, speculation was rife in the media about Lalit Modi and his aides having benaami stakes in the team.

The team surprised many when it won the first edition of the IPL in 2008. It was a team with low-profile players and the least budget, but propelled itself to become one of the most high-profile teams in the second edition of the IPL in South Africa in 2009. Shilpa Shetty, fresh from her win in the reality show Big Brother in the United Kingdom, became its brand ambassador and her then fiance Raj Kundra apparently got some stake in the team. But even at that time, no one bothered to get into the details of ownership of the team and Shilpa Shetty and Raj Kundra projected themselves as combined owners.

Shashank Manohar, BCCI president, admitted at a press conference on April 26 that there were some signs of ownership irregularities in the Royals team. He said: There was a company based in the U.K. by the name of Emerging Media IPL. The company was owned by a single individual Manoj Badale. The company was started four months earlier to the bid. His bid was accepted. However, the agreement is signed with Jaipur IPL [Jaipur IPL Cricket Private Limited]. There is an interesting fact to be noted: this is a company wherein there were only two stakeholders at the time the agreement was signed. The two stakeholders were one Mr Castelinho and Bal Thakur.

He explained:

Now the bid is given by A, the document signed by B, who had nothing to do with the bid. Then, separate companies have come in, who have registered in Mauritius. Mr Modi made a statement that the entire world knows who the stakeholders in the franchises are. But even the members of the governing council were not aware. As I said, in the Rajasthan Royals franchise, Jaipur IPL is the main company. The shares of these two persons are then sold and transferred to certain individuals and certain companies like Tresco and Blue Waters. Nobody knows what Blue Waters and Tresco is. Now, I did not find in the shareholders register the names of Mr Raj Kundra and Shilpa Shetty, who claim to be the stakeholders.

There is a clause in the agreement, which is entered into with all the franchises, that in case you transfer your shares, the transfer has to be made with the permission of the IPL and the board is entitled to have 5 per cent of the amount of the transaction as their fees. Now nothing of this [sort] has happened [in the case of the Royals, which apparently transferred its shares to Raj Kundra before IPL 2]. So we are asking an explanation, if A gives the bid, how do you sign agreement with B? How does [sic] all these people get into this? None of us are aware and we dont know who these companies are.

In a statement on April 27, the Royals said: The Rajasthan Royals franchise bid was successful, with full compliance of BCCI guidelines, in a process conducted with the committee members of BCCI in January 2008.

Regarding the BCCIs accusations, the statement said: The investors agreed to submit the bid using a consortium, led by U.K.-based Emerging Media (IPL) Ltd. The other entities in the consortium were disclosed in the bid submission documents. Subsequently, on 8 March 2008, an Indian company Jaipur IPL Cricket Pvt Ltd was incorporated, as detailed in the bid submission. We then executed the franchise agreement on 14 April 2008. The ownership of the consortium did not change between the award of the bid on 23 January 2008 and the signing of the franchise agreement on 14 April 2008.

As part of our strategy to broaden our shareholder base, in February 2009 Kuki Investments Ltd (Raj Kundra and family) acquired an 11.7 per cent stake in EM Sporting Holdings Limited, the parent company of Jaipur IPL Cricket Pvt Ltd, which was fully disclosed to the BCCI/IPL. The current shareholders of EM Sporting Holdings Limited, who all have multiple business interests and independent means, are as follows: Emerging Media (IPL) Ltd (Manoj Badale 32.4 per cent), Tresco International Ltd (Suresh Chellaram family 44.2), Blue Water Estate Ltd (Lachlan Murdoch 11.7) and Kuki Investments Ltd (Raj Kundra & family 11.7). There are no other shareholders.

According to the BCCI/IPL rules, the IPL was entitled to 5 per cent of the increase in the pro-rata value of the franchise. In February 2009 the Rajasthan Royals contacted the BCCI to agree the precise definition, to agree the amount that needed to be paid, and we are still awaiting a response. For absolute clarity the payment has been fully accrued for within our accounts.

Rajasthan Royals set a precedent for other teams by issuing a statement. It turns out that Raj Kundra and family have the least number of shares. The fact that Emerging Media Ltd has fewer shares than Tresco International Ltd has raised eyebrows. Considering that the main allegation against Modi is that he sold 60 per cent of these teams to the official owners and 40 per cent to benaami owners or entities who served as fronts for him, Rajasthan Royals papers could provide important leads.

The statement makes it clear that the Chellaram family is the largest shareholder in the team. Since Suresh Chellaram is the brother-in-law of Lalit Modi, it is being alleged that he is a front for Lalit Modi. However, the teams official website says the chairman of the team is Manoj Badale whose company Emerging Media led the initial bids. Nowhere was it mentioned that the Chellaram family had the most number of shares in the team until this fiasco. Now, the Income Tax Department is looking into the allegations that Modi has benaami stakes in the team.

Meanwhile, Ratnakar Shetty, the chief administrative officer of the BCCI, who has been appointed by it to look into the issue, has accused Modi of holding back several original documents. These, he said, included documents relating to the original bidders.

One thing that is clear in the IPL scandal is that Rajasthan Royals holds the key to crucial findings.

KINGS XI DOWN By Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta

KINGS XI Punjab had a forgettable IPL Season 3, taking the last position in the points table. Off the field, it is among the franchises that face allegations of ownership irregularities. Shashank Manohar has raised questions about its ownership agreement signed in 2008.

The team is registered as a franchise of KPH Dreams Cricket Private Limited. Its official website lists its promoters or owners. Preity Zinta, a film actor from Mumbai, is named as the chairperson of the team. Ness Wadia, joint managing director of Bombay Dyeing, is named as a co-promoter of the team. These two have been the public faces of the team at its matches since 2008.

However, the names of two others who figure in the list sparked a controversy as they were nowhere to be seen until the search began for the shareholders of all franchises following Lalit Modis tweet on the Kochi teams ownership pattern. The two are Mohit Burman, director of Dabur India, and Karan Paul of Apeejay Surendra Group.

Shashank Manohar said at a press conference: When the bids were given, it was signed only by Preity Zinta. She said she will form a consortium with three people: Mohit Burman, one Mr Karan Paul and one other name. When the franchise agreement was signed by her, she did not have a single share in that company. The shares were transferred to her after the signing of the agreement. Then Mr Gaurav Burman gets in and the rest [of the things happen]. Again the same logic should be applied: you need to have the consent of the IPL and the fee. But once again nothing happened.

The allegations of benaami stakes of Lalit Modi came into focus when the relationship between him and Mohit Burman, one of the owners of Kings XI Punjab, was established. Mohits younger brother, Gaurav Burman, is married to the step-daughter of Lalit Modi. However, on April 27, Mohit Burman told the media that the ownership details of the team would be divulged and a press release would be issued on this. There are no irregularities in the ownership and running of the team, he said.

Mohit Burman denied the allegation, reported in an English daily citing a claim made in an Income Tax Department report, that Lalit Modi owned a stake in Kings XI through Akash Arora, owner of a Delhi-based BPO. Akash does not own and has never owned a stake in our team, Mohit Burman said.

Another allegation was that Modi helped Betfair, a legal betting company in the U.K., and that Gaurav Burman was to receive equity on behalf of Modi. However, Burman denied any links with the betting company.

A court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, on April 22, issued summons to the owners of Kings XI for not adhering to the provisions of the Companies Act. The court was acting on a complaint submitted by the Registrar of Companies, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh, that the company, KPH Dreams Cricket Private Limited, which was registered on March 10, 2008, with the Registrar of Companies, had failed to submit the balance sheet or annual returns since it came into existence. On April 19, the Central Excise and Service Tax Commissioner slapped a notice on the company for service tax of Rs.5.38 crore for 2008-09.

Income tax officials arrived at the teams office in Mohali, Punjab, on April 23 to look at documents relating to the franchises financial dealings with the IPL. We have not found anything incriminating during the visit to the companys office in Mohali and we also have not seized anything. We just asked them to provide us the copies of their books of accounts, which they did, a senior IT official was reported as saying in a national daily. The IT Department has also sent notices to some of the teams players asking them to furnish details of their contracts with the team.

BRAND RIDERS By Suhrid Sankar Chattopadhyay

KOLKATA Knight Riders (KKR) is, according to the United Kingdom-based international brand valuation consultancy Brand Finance Plc, the second most valued brand in the IPL at $46 million. This is despite it being one of the least successful teams on the field. KKR ended sixth in 2008, eighth in 2009 and sixth in 2010.

Says Brand Finance Plc: Despite propping up the bottom of this years edition of the IPL the Kolkata Knight Riders are the most valuable franchise brand at $42.1 million. Celebrity co-owner Shah Rukh Khans hard-selling of the KKR brand has counteracted the teams poor on-field performance.

The team, owned by Knight Riders Sports Private Limited, in which film star Shah Rukh Khans Red Chillies Entertainment has a 55 per cent stake, is the only team not to reach the semi-final stage in any of the three editions. The team was bought by Shah Rukh Khans company for just $75.1 million the second-lowest price fetched by a team after Rajasthan Royals. The present co-owners of the team are Red Chillies Entertainment, former movie star Juhi Chawla, with 20 per cent stake, and her industrialist husband Jay Mehta, with 25 per cent share.

The celebrity ownership and the return of former Indian team skipper Sourav Ganguly as captain and icon-player helped create an enormous hype about the team. In the first round of auctions for players, in 2008, KKR brought to its stable the following cricket stars: Ishant Sharma ($950,000), Chris Gayle (West Indies, $800,000), Brendon McCullum (New Zealand, $700,000), David Hussey, (Australia, $625,000), Shoaib Akhtar (Pakistan, $425,000), Murali Kartik ($425,000), Ricky Ponting (Australia, $400,000), Ajit Agarkar ($350,000), Umar Gul (Pakistan, $150,000) and Tatenda Taibu (Zimbawe, $ 125,000).

In 2009, with the Pakistani players withdrawing from the tournament, KKR signed up Sachin Rana, Mohnish Parmar, Angelo Mathews (Sri Lanka) and Moises Henriques (Australia) before the auctions took place. Ajantha Mendis (Sri Lanka) and Brad Hodge (Australia) were also signed during the off-season. Bangladeshi bowler Mashrafe Mortaza was picked up at the auction for $600,000. In the 2010 auction, KKR got Shane Bond of New Zealand for $750,000.

Though the theme of the team is Korbo, Lorbo, Jitbo (direct translation from Bengali: Will do it, will fight it out, will win it), its performance on the field has not been particularly successful. However, this has not had an impact on earnings. In 2009, it was the second-highest earner (Rs.110.8 crore). Ahead of it was Chennai Super Kings (Rs.111.2 crore) and third came Deccan Chargers (Rs.109.5 crore). In terms of prize money, KKR earned the lowest (Rs.0.4 crore) and Deccan Chargers the highest (Rs.4.5 crore). But KKRs net profit was third highest at Rs.25.8 crore, after Rajasthan Royals (Rs.35.1 crore) and Kings XI Punjab (Rs.26.1 crore).

KKRs undiminished brand value shows a strange phenomenon of the worth of the team not being reflective or even dependent upon its successes on the field. In 2009, KKR earned Rs.18.9 crore from other incomes the highest in the category among all teams. Other incomes generally mean gate receipts, in-stadia advertisements, sale of merchandise and media tie-ups. According to an independent study undertaken by Intangible Business of the U.K. and MTI Consultancy, titled the IPL Brand Value Score Card, 2009, KKR was the strongest brand in the IPL. One of the main reasons for that, according to the study, is Shah Rukh Khan, who often makes it a point to be present at a match venue to support his team and brings with him other celebrities.

Khans popularity has helped in enhancing the brand image of Kolkata Knight Riders, with many Kolkata-based brands looking beyond Sourav Ganguly, tagged maharaja of Bengal, and pursuing the baadshah Khans endorsements instead. The Shah Rukh Khan brand and the in-stadium marketing strategies of the team have influenced the teams brand value resulting in higher income from gate receipts, merchandising revenues and by attracting new team sponsors, said the report.

In 2010, before season 3 began, KKR signed a contract with the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB). Though no formal contract had been signed earlier, in 2008 KKR paid the CAB Rs.50 lakh per match played at the Eden Gardens. Biswarup Dey, joint secretary, CAB, told Frontline: A large chunk of the money that the CAB received from KKR went to the police and the Kolkata Municipal Corporation [KMC] for various civic and security services. Under the new contract, we have asked KKR to make its payments directly to the police and the KMC. Because of that KKR will pay us Rs.2.5 crore instead of Rs.3.5 crore for the seven matches played here.

The team has not been free of controversies either. Just before the second season took off in 2009, rumour was rife in the KKR camp of major disagreements between skipper Sourav Ganguly and the then team coach John Buchanan. Matters came to a head just before the beginning of the tournament when Ganguly was suddenly removed and McCullum was made captain. An anonymous blogger suddenly appeared under the name of Fake IPL Player and began to divulge all internal matters pertaining to the team alleged feuds, important decisions, game strategies and so on. Buchanan was since replaced with Dav Whatmore.

KKR also found itself in a controversy with the West Bengal government over ticket prices. At the Eden Gardens this year, a VVIP enclosure was constructed for Shah Rukh Khan and his entourage, known as the super hospitality box, which allowed spectators to get as close as possible to the stars. Each of these tickets apparently cost Rs.32,000, though the printed price on the ticket was Rs.20,000. State Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta said his department was looking into this matter.

On April 22, a team from the investigations wing of the Income Tax Department visited the offices of KKR, the CAB, Red Chillies Entertainment, and Gameplan (a sports management group that has dealings with KKR). According to reports, the team recovered several documents that were apparently in the process of being destroyed before the survey.

IT officials are also reported to have said that certain irregularities that came to their notice were also being looked into.

BUILDING BRIDGES By Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta

OF the three franchises from north India, Delhi Daredevils is the only one to have worked in a fairly transparent manner and come out clean in its financial dealings. Owned by GMR Sports Private Limited, it was, according to some media reports and sources, the second team, after Deccan Chargers, to release its ownership details voluntarily, on April 20.

The GMR groups chief operating officer, Amrit Mathur, said the management was cooperating with the income tax officials. About the franchises profits, he said: At present, we are focussing on the cricketing aspect of it [IPL]. IPL has assured us that they would take care of the commercial issues.

The GMR group, which is in charge of renovating and maintaining the Delhi airport, declared on its website: The GMR Group successfully won the bid as a franchisee for Indian Premier League sponsored 20-20 Delhi team. This bid was won in an interesting and intensely contested auction organised by the Board of Control for Cricket in India. While the GMR Group has marked its presence in the capital through its modernising and restructuring of the Delhi International Airport, the winning of the franchisee rights for the Delhi 20-20 team augments the Groups commitment to build social assets in the important National Capital Region (NCR) and the surrounding catchment regions.

The Bangalore-based construction giant said in a statement that Delhi Daredevils was owned by GMR Sports Private Limited, a subsidiary of GMR Holdings Private Limited. The company said GMR Holdings Private Limited owned 51 per cent of the share capital and G.M. Rao and his family members held the rest. Of this, G.M. Rao has 13 per cent and Srinivas Bommidala, G.B. Raju and G. Kiran Kumar have 12 per cent each.

The statement also said GMR Sports Private Ltd was run by a board of directors headed by Bommidala as chairman. The other directors are P.B. Vanchi, G. Subbarao and K. Narayanrao. The share capital of GMR Holdings Private Ltd is held fully by G.M. Rao and his family members, according to a media report.

Delhi Daredevils ownership may not be a concern, but it landed itself in a different sort of controversy. The Delhi and Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) accused the team authorities of high-handedness during the just-concluded IPL 3. A national newspaper published from New Delhi reported that DDCA treasurer Narinder Batra slammed GMR for causing deliberate unpleasant situations at operational level. This letter, which was also posted to the IPL authorities and the BCCI, also says that serious issues existed at the operational level and that relations down the line are not transparent/cordial/healthy.

The newspaper quoted Batra as saying that the conduct of IPL 3 in Delhi was a fairly unpleasant experience and that there was a feeling within the DDCA that an effort has been made to belittle and humiliate the host association by the franchisee officers of the Delhi Team.

However, Amrit Mathur of Delhi Daredevils said: Weve always enjoyed a smooth working relationship with the DDCA, with whom we have a good understanding.

WINNING SPREE By Anupama Katakam

MUMBAI Indians spent a staggering $750,000 to acquire Kieron Pollard, the all-rounder from Trinidad and Tobago, for IPL Season 3 in a tightly contested bid. But during the final on April 25, when MI batted, the star spent more time in the dugout awaiting his turn to swing the bat and with it the match. When he did get his turn, the team needed 55 runs from 18 balls to win, a few runs too many at that stage. He blasted 27 runs off 10 balls before holing out to Matthew Hayden at mid-off, a victim of the strategy that kept him away from the middle for too long.

While Pollard came off with his reputation as a big hitter intact, Mumbai Indians turned out second best and left people puzzled about its tactics. There was a serious flaw in their strategy, said a commentator.

Mumbai Indians is owned by Mukesh Ambani and is the most expensive team of the IPL. He paid a whopping $111.9 million (Rs.447 crore) to put together a combination of players he believed would ensure victory. It also reportedly earned him the right to have Mumbai host the semi-finals and the final. The team is led by master batsman Sachin Tendulkar and has in its ranks legends such as Sri Lankan Sanath Jayasuriya and now Pollard. Amid the swirl of financial scandal around the IPL and the ownership of some of the teams, Mumbai Indians stood out for its squeaky clean image. It even filed its equity pattern with the IPL on April 21.

The filing, which was made public, stated that 98.3 per cent of the equity of the Mumbai Indians franchise, IndiaWin Sports Pvt. Ltd., was held by Reliance Industrial Investments and Holdings Ltd (RIIHL) and the remaining 1.7 per cent was held by Teesta Retail Pvt. Ltd.

RIIHL is a 100 per cent subsidiary of Reliance Industries and Teesta is a part of RIIHL. The equity of RIIHL has increased because it has converted the loan given to Teesta into equity, says the company statement.

Information given by the company says that the founding sponsors are MasterCard and official partners are Adidas, Kingfisher and Royal Stag. During the first year, the franchises revenue through broadcast rights (Rs.35 crore) and sponsorships (Rs.20 crore) and gate receipts (Rs.14 crore) totalled Rs.69 crore. Expenses included franchise fees (Rs.20 crore), team (Rs.20 crore), advertising (Rs.14 crore) and administration (Rs.6 crore). The net loss amounted to Rs.16 crore. In the second season MI broke even, according to the company. This years figures are yet to be released.

Little information other than this is available or has been released to the media. Since it is a single owner the financials may not be that complicated. And in the case of Mukesh Ambani, his source of funds is very obvious, says a cricket commentator.

Although considered a strong team, it has been a journey of ups and downs so far for Mumbai Indians. In 2008, it ranked fifth among eight teams, winning seven games. In 2009, it ranked seventh, winning just five games. Finally, this year it made it to the final as the top team in the league phase. However, in the final it was a case of so near, yet so far.

Cricket analysts believe that in 2008 the team was hampered by the absence of Tendulkar, owing to a hamstring injury, and Harbajan Singh, who was under suspension for disciplinary reasons. South Africas Shaun Pollock led the team. In 2009, in spite of the team buying players such as Zaheer Khan and Shikhar Dhawan, the right combination still proved elusive. But this year everything fell into place nicely and it went on a winning spree until the final.

SPIRITED FIGHT By Ravi Sharma

IT was the perfect start to the T20 Indian Premier League on a sultry night in April 2008 at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. New Zealand wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum, opening the batting for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), bludgeoned the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) bowling to end up with a personal score of 158 runs, which included 13 sixes and 10 fours.

For the screaming, 45,000-strong crowd, this was cricket. Not quite so, though, for the connoisseurs, who had come to accept one-day cricket as a necessary evil.

Said E.A.S. Prasanna, unarguably the best off-spinner India has produced: The elegance of cricket is missing from IPL and 20:20 cricket. The contest between the bowler and the batsman is just not there. Here, the bowler is only trying to stop the batsman from scoring runs. The bowler has sacrificed his ability to take wickets, with wickets falling mainly because of the adventurism of the batsman. However good the bowling, spectators only want to see runs being scored.

If IPL 2008 started off as mostly non-cricket, its 2009 and 2010 editions only took it further down that road. The razzmatazz, the music, the lights from advertisement hoardings, the firecrackers, the cheerleaders and the film stars the event only got bigger, but not necessarily better.

In February 2008, Vijay Mallya, chairman of the UB Group, successfully bid $111.6 million for the Bangalore team (which was the second most expensive of the eight IPL teams), christened it Royal Challengers (after the UB Groups top-selling spirits brand Royal Challenge whisky), named Rahul Dravid the icon player and recruited foreign players such as Jacques Kallis, Dale Steyn and Mark Boucher (all from South Africa), Cameron White and Nathan Bracken (both Australia) and Misbah-ul-Haq (Pakistan), besides the then Indian captain Anil Kumble and his teammates Zaheer Khan and Praveen Kumar.

But with the team performing poorly and finishing in the last but one position on the league table, Mallya chopped and changed the composition of his squad, appointing Englands Kevin Pietersen and later Kumble as captain. He brought in South African Ray Jennings as the coach and Karnataka State Cricket Association secretary Brijesh Patel as the chief executive officer.

RCB finished runner-up in 2009 and third this year. For the UB Group, the billion dollar IPL circus is a logical place to be in and it has successfully leveraged the IPL brand at several levels, including sponsoring five of the eight teams.

According to a filing made to the Bombay Stock Exchange on April 19, RCB is owned by Royal Challengers Sports Private Limited (RCSPL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of United Spirits Limited (USL), the Rs.5,700 crore spirits arm of the UB Group.

According to the filing, USL participated in the initial IPL bidding process in 2007-08 and was awarded the rights to own the Bangalore team. It formed the RCSPL, in which the franchise right to the Bangalore team is currently domiciled. While the board of directors of RCSPL consists of Vijay Mallya, Sidhartha V. Mallya, V.K. Rekhi, P.A. Murali and V.S. Venkataraman, funding for the management of the Bangalore team and the payment of franchise fees is being done by USL.

While Mallya was unavailable for comment, officials from the group were unanimous that the IPL was very important for the group, it having built a 360 degree advertising surround around IPL. As for the various levels at which the group has leveraged the IPL brand, officials pointed to the television commercial that was shot with players from across teams; the meet and greet players campaign, where members of the public could take part in a competition to meet players; branding on jerseys (leading arm) of players; access to player images; signage inside stadia, on umpires apparel and while awaiting the third umpires verdict on the large screen; and pouring of the UB Groups brands at the grounds and in corporate lounges, retail outlets and at pubs and hotels.

Mallya, writing on Twitter after the murky side of the IPL surfaced in April, said that he would fiercely protect the IPL. The event is most important, and that all India should be proud of the IPL. He has been supportive of Lalit Modi. With a single industrial house owning the RCB, the franchise has not had to answer too many questions on ownership. On April 22, income tax offcials visited the offices of the RCB and went through documents. And that is where the matter rests for now.

READY CHARGERS By V.V. Subrahmanyam

THE business angle to cricket is new to our country. It means that we must please the fans and add value to the shareholders. It is not an either or option, remarked V. Shankar, chairman of Deccan Chargers Sporting Ventures (DCSV), in a statement posted on the Deccan Chargers website on April 22. He also said they were the first to disclose all the details voluntarily, that too long before demands were made on the franchises.

A wholly owned subsidiary of Deccan Chronicle Holdings Ltd (DCHL), DCSV acquired the franchise at $107 million in 2008. Under the listing agreement with stock exchanges and the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the accounts of Deccan Chargers should be shown along with the holding company during the declaration of the audited results and the annual report of the latter.

As per the mandatory declaration, besides V. Shankar the stakeholders in the DSCV are T. Venkatram Reddy, P.K. Iyer, N. Krishnan, M. Sukumar Reddy and G. Kumar, all members of the board of directors.

The income statement for 2008-09 reveals that DCSV declared a profit of Rs.2 crore on an extremely low revenue base of Rs.56 crore. This was helped by franchise rights income of about Rs.24 crore, sponsorship fees of about Rs.16 crore and income from advertisements and ticket sales of about Rs.16 crore.

The expenditure shown is also relatively low at Rs.54 crore. What has raised eyebrows is the provision of a mere Rs.17.1 crore for amortisation of franchise fee. For, the total fee payable to the BCCI is approximately Rs.430 crore for 10 years and this works out to an average of Rs.43 crore a year. If the actual figure had been provided for, the company would have netted a loss. Significantly, the company decided to charge the franchise fee as depreciation into P & L account over 25 years.

Deccan Chronicles annual report says: The franchise rights will continue in perpetuity. However, the useful life has been determined as 25 years based on the expected term that the franchise will continue to contribute to the net cash flows of the company. Accordingly, franchise rights are being amortised over the estimated useful life of 25 years.

Normally under accounting norms, no franchise can amortise an intangible asset over a period well beyond the life of the asset, argues Sesha Prasad, corporate accounting expert and a qualified chartered accountant.

From the players point of view, their fees have not been provided for beyond three years, when the contracts end, and there is no clear hint of what the new budget will be for the fresh player auction later this year for IPL 4. Deccan Chargers acquired high-profile players like Andrew Symonds ($650,000) and Adam Gilchrist ($500,000) in 2008 and Kemar Roach ($750,000) before the IPL-3 edition.

Venkat Reddy, director of operations (Deccan Chargers), while refusing to go into the details of financial matters, is confident about the future. Well, at the end of it all [the controversies], I feel it is imperative that cricket and IPL have to survive. That is what any franchise would wish for in the given situation, he said. No, we never really had any problem with Mr Lalit Modi as IPL commissioner. Honestly, we have always believed that the institution is more important than an individual, though he does deserve great credit for making the IPL a great success, he added.

Venkat Reddy believes that the success of the IPL is because of the branding it has through the franchises. So all the franchises are always optimistic of a bright future, he said.

To quote V. Shankar, in his statement, on the IPL controversy: In resolving the current situation, the law must be seen to be fair and will take its own course. As part of the process, every franchise is required to support the authorities in their quest for truth. We will be as transparent as we have always been and lend our support to any process that will uphold crickets image as a gentlemans game.

SUPER KINGS By T.S. Subramanian

AT the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai the atmosphere is electric when the home team, Chennai Super Kings (CSK), plays an IPL match. Season three was no different. As the teams title song, Whistle podu (let fly the whistle), blared from an audio system in the stands, the crowd went delirious and the air was instantly filled with the sounds of throaty whistles long, short, screechy. (On YouTube, videos of CSKs theme song and title song, featuring captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, are immensely popular. They are a hit with FM radio broadcasts as well. CSK cooling glasses and key chains and other merchandise are in great demand during the IPL season.) Between overs, drummer and cricket aficionado Sivamani would get into the act, moving from stand to stand and quite literally playing to the gallery, which is a sea of yellow, the team colour.

The cup of joy of cricket-crazy Chennai overflowed on April 25 when CSK beat the formidable Mumbai Indians led by Sachin Tendulkar in the final played in Mumbai. Whistle podu! CSK Champs ran the headline in an English daily the next morning. That CSK is a top team is clear from its record: it lost to Rajasthan Royals in the final in IPL 1, reached the semi-finals in IPL 2 held in South Africa last year, and is the winner in IPL 3.

The team is owned by India Cements Limited, a public limited company headed by N. Srinivasan, who is its vice-chairman and managing director. In 2008, India Cements was the only franchise to bid for a team for Chennai. The bid price was $91.5 million, to be paid over 10 years.

In the 2008 player auction, India Cements spent $5.92 million to buy 10 players and a coach. Of them, Dhoni was to get $1.5 million, Jacob Oram of New Zealand and Albie Morkel were bought for $675,000 each, Suresh Raina was to get $650,000, Muthiah Muralitharan $600,000, Hayden $375,000, Stephen Fleming (coach) of New Zealand and Mike Hussey $350,000 each, Parthiv Patel $325,000, Joginder Sharma $225,000 and Makhaya Ntini $200,000. They were to be paid these amounts every year for three years from 2008. The money to be paid to Bollinger has not been disclosed because he came in place of the injured Andrew Flintoff and Oram.

In the basket of 24 players, each team can have a maximum of 10 overseas players. Of these 10, four can figure in the playing 11. After three years, each franchise can retain three foreign and four Indian players.

CSKs forte is its strong local flavour with talented players such as Murali Vijay, Badrinath, Ashwin, Ganapathy, Arun Karthik, L. Balaji and Badani. The team has a batting powerhouse in Raina who, with his 35-ball 57, was the architect of CSKs win on April 25. Rainas 57 was the quickest half-century in an IPL final. In addition, explosive players from abroad, such as Hayden, Morkel, Hussey, Bollinger and Muralitharan, and a formidable captain in Dhoni make CSK the team to beat.

Cricket sources say another factor that has helped boost CSKs performance is the non-interference of the owner in the affairs of the team. Srinivasan, who is also BCCI secretary, reportedly does not interfere in team selection.

Not only did Srinivasans CSK win the IPL championship but India Cements emerged clean when Income Tax officials did a document-based investigation on the premises of the company in Chennai on April 21. About 20 officials conducted the survey about India Cements transactions vis-a-vis the IPL. P.K. Sarangi, Director-General of Income Tax (Investigation), said: They [India Cements] have shown us all the documents. We have not found any suspicious transactions. We do not have any adverse information about their transactions. We have completed our survey.