New IPL teams unveiled after fixing scandal

Shashank Manohar (C), head of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), BCCI honorary secretary Anurag Thakur (R) and Indian Premier League chairman Rajeev Shukla (L) attend a press conference in New Delhi on December 8, 2015. The IPL governing council met to decide which two new teams would play in the league over the next two years. AFP PHOTO/Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP / SAJJAD HUSSAIN

Teams from the western cities of Pune and Rajkot won an auction Tuesday to compete in cricket’s Indian Premier League, replacing two franchises that were banned over a corruption scandal.

The Twenty20 tournament’s chairman Rajiv Shukla said that New Rising, a subsidiary of the Sanjeev Goenka group, bagged the Pune franchise, while Delhi-based Intex Mobiles picked up the Rajkot team in open bidding.

Shukla said the owners had not paid the tournament organisers for the right to field teams in the next two editions of the tournament, but would instead forgo payments from a central pool of money which is made of cash from TV rights and sponsorship.

“This speaks to the enduring popularity of the tournament that instead of us paying them money they are going to pay us,” Shukla told reporters after the auction in the capital New Delhi.

New Rising have agreed to pay around $3.4 million annually for the Pune franchise and Intex will pay around $1.5 million for the Rajkot team.

The auction followed the decision by India’s cricket board to ban the Chennai Super Kings and the Rajasthan Royals from the glitzy tournament on the recommendation of a Supreme Court-appointed panel.

The 2013 IPL season was mired in controversy after police launched legal proceedings against several officials from the two teams and three Rajasthan Royals players for illegal betting and spot-fixing.

The Super Kings, led by India’s World Cup-winning captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, are the most successful team in the IPL’s history, having won the tournament in 2010 and 2011 and finishing runners-up on four occasions.

Rajasthan Royals won the inaugural event in 2008 under the captaincy of Australian spin legend Shane Warne, but have failed to make the final since then.

Both Chennai and Rajasthan are expected to return to the IPL after their bans end in 2018.

The new buyers, which will ensure the IPL remains an eight-team event for at least the next two years, will be presented at a media conference later on Tuesday.

Since its launch in 2008, the IPL has become hugely popular by paying mega salaries to big-name internationals who perform against a glamorous backdrop of dancing girls and Bollywood stars, who part-own the teams.

But despite attracting big audiences, it has been dogged by scandal, including allegations of corruption, spot-fixing and crooked umpires.