Mumbai: Cracking the whip for breach of contractual terms, the BCCI today terminated the contract of IPL franchise Kochi Tuskers Kerala, a move which has prompted the controversial Kerala team to threaten legal action against the Cricket Board.
The decision to terminate Kochi franchise was taken at the BCCI's Annual General Meeting here, thus abruptly ending the franchise's association with the cash-rich league which will now be a nine-team affair.
"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," new BCCI President N Srinivasan told reporters after the AGM.
Asked if the BCCI would reconsider its decision and give the franchise a chance to return, Srinivasan bluntly rejected such a suggestion.
"No, we have terminated the franchise because the breach is not capable of being remedied," he clarified.
The consortium, which was mired in a bitter ownership dispute since its very inception, defaulted on a Rs 156 crore annual payment it was to make as bank guarantee despite reported reminders from the IPL authorities.
Kochi Tuskers are in no mood to take the BCCI's decision lying down and made it clear that they would take legal recourse.
"The BCCI notice is wrong, (it was) prima facie. 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," said Kochi Tusker Chairman Mukesh Patel.
"We have never defaulted. The BCCI will be paying us Rs 12-15 crore next month as a part of our central revenue," Patel added.
Patel was miffed that the BCCI did not cut down the franchise fees despite reducing the number of matches in IPL 4 from 94 to 74 due to packed international calendar.
"The number of games in Tender Document was 94, they then reduced it to 74 but did not reduce the franchise fees."
The franchise, which was bought for Rs 1,550 crore, was supposed to make the yearly payment for the next 10 years.
Kochi's termination means the 10-team tournament would be reduced to nine.
Srinivasan said any decision to conduct fresh auction for a new franchise would be taken by the Rajiv Shukla-led IPL Governing Council. Shukla was named as the new IPL chairman today, succeeding Chirayu Amin.
Incidentally, the BCCI's working committee had last year rejected demands from Kochi and the Pune Warriors for a reduction in their franchisee fees.
The two new franchises, which made their debut this year, had sought a 25 per cent waiver on the grounds that the BCCI had stated in the bidding document that each team would play 18 league matches in a season but the schedule was later reduced to 14 matches per team.
Led by Mahela Jayawardene, Kochi has also been hitting the headlines due to its owners' reported desire to shift the team's base to Ahmedabad.
Kochi had faced the prospect of being axed even last year when the BCCI had questioned its shareholding patterns but the matter was later settled after agreement between various owners.