Interest of the Kochi players will be protected: Rajiv Shukla

Rajiv Shukla said looking forward to the new job of running a league that has redefined Indian cricket AFP

By M R Mishra

New Delhi: Sep 22, 2011

Interest of the players contracted with terminated IPL franchise Kochi Tuskers Kerala will be protected, assured the league’s new boss Rajiv Shukla who promised to make the cash-rich event more attractive by bringing in “new ideas and elements.”

Shukla said protecting the players affected by Kochi’s ouster is primary concern for the IPL authorities and that the Governing Council will meet in the second week of October to discuss all issues related to the termination.

“Our prime concern will be the players’ interest, their interest is not hampered in terms of financial loses and also in terms of their participation in the tournament,” Shukla told PTI in an interview here.

“Suppose these players are re-auctioned for some other franchise and if there is any difference what they are supposed to get, it will be compensated by us,” he explained.

Kochi Tuskers Kerala, a team introduced only last year that constantly hit the headlines for its ownership dispute, was terminated from the IPL after failing to pay its annual bank guarantee.

The termination leaves players contracted with the franchise such as its Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene, Indian pacer S Sreesanth and spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan without a team and an uncertain future.

“The status is that on the issue of non-payment, Kochi has been terminated as per the agreement between franchise and BCCI. They were supposed to pay the bank guarantee… they have gone to the court, and the court didn’t give them any relief and BCCI is entitled to encash the bank guarantee,” Shukla said.

“We have to protect the interest of the players also. So after the termination of this franchise, now nine teams are left. The whole matter will go to Governing Council and they will take a view if we should go for one more team or we should stick to nine teams. I am okay with both the plans and whatever the council decides we will go by that. We have a plan for each situation,” Shukla added.

Shukla, however, ruled out any immediate possibility of a new owner coming in to take over Kochi.

“No, now if any decision is taken, it has to be on the basis of a new bid,” he said.

Shukla, also the Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, is looking forward to the new job of running a league that has redefined Indian cricket.

Talking about the enormity of running an event, which has of late been at the centre of financial rows, Shukla said, “IPL has been facing various challenges and that is how it has come up and now talked about all over world. This is one tournament which is recognised, so such things will always be surrounded with challenges.”

“Since the responsibility has been assigned to me, I have always taken up such challenges, and I would like to bring new elements to it, by next month there should be a road map and we would add further elements, make it more attractive, but at the same time, the whole idea is not to sacrifice sanctity of the game. It is going to be an interesting tournament,” he said.

Shukla said a new plan is being prepared to jazz up the league which was the brainchild of its now sacked Commissioner Lalit Modi.

“The idea is to without diluting the current elements, if we could add new elements, we will be talking with the franchises also. We are going to have close interaction with franchises, there ideas will also be solicited,” Shukla revealed.

“We will be consulting some other experts also and after that some value addition will be done,” he said.

Accusations of financial bunglings and now the termination of a franchise for defaulting on payments, Brand IPL is not in the best of times but Shukla insisted that the damage is not that big.

“I don’t think (all this has affected brand IPL) because the whole thing is transparent and the decisions are being taken by the governing council. If you find anything not according to our rules and regulations or according to our contracts we will take action. So we are neither meting out any injustice to anyone nor are we compromising with the provisions of IPL,” he said.

Asked whether having 10 teams, now reduced to nine, makes the tournament a tad too long, Shukla said, “Eight team tournament was also doing well but at the same time the BCCI working committee felt two teams should be added and keeping that in mind, two teams were added and after that it worked well, so let’s see what impact it has now that there are nine teams.”

Shukla said as IPL chairman he would keep a low profile like his predecessor Chirayu Amin.

“I will also not be flamboyant. A task has been entrusted to me by Mr (N) Srinivasan and Mr (Shashank) Monahar and my task will be to fulfill their aspirations and improve on the product and make it more valuable and friendly to the cricket world,” Shukla said.

“I will not be interested in my publicity but my whole endeavour would be to make the IPL more popular, not only in terms of financial gain but also its impact on by and large on people,” he added.

Asked what he thought of suggestions that IPL should be granted a permanent window in the ICC calender, Shukla said it is best to leave things as they are right now.

“It is a domestic tournament and it is difficult for ICC to make a window for it. The BCCI has also not sought a permanent slot for it, so it is okay as things stand now,” he said.

On Sports Minister Ajay Maken’s view that since IPL involves huge financial transactions, BCCI should be brought under RTI, Shukla said big money does not always mean corruption.

“Financial transaction doesn’t mean that everything should be brought under the ambit of RTI. Financial transactions are everywhere and accounts are given to income tax dept and accounts are at the public domain so I don’t think there is any need of bringing BCCI under RTI,” he pointed out.