Kochi's IPL loss could be Ahmedabad's gain

MUMBAI: Ahmedabad's dream of flaunting an Indian Premier League team might come true very soon. Fifteen days into the suspension notice given to the Kochi franchise, it is becoming clearer by the hour that its internal conflicts are unresolvable. "It's as good as over. There is no solution to this," a source close to the developments confirmed to TOI on Wednesday.

Shockingly, it has been learned that the two warring parties, one led by the Gujarat lobby and the other by Rendezvous Sports World Limited, have not bothered to meet even once since the governing council meeting on October 28.

The IPL council, it may recalled, had asked the franchise to resolve its problems within 30 days or face termination. With 15 days still to go, even the BCCI is resigned to the possibility that Kochi will not have a team after all.

A senior official said: "We will hold an auction as we want eight teams this year too." At the moment there are only seven teams in the fray, including Sahara's Pune Warriors, and excluding Kings XI and Rajasthan Royals who are fighting for survival in courts.

This is where the final twist kicks in. Right from the beginning, Ahmedabad has been eager for a team but it got pipped, both in 2008 and this year (when Gautam Adani failed to make a winning bid).

Interestingly, a formidable Gujarati lobby got together in 2010 to bid for a team in Ahmedabad. But it had to settle for Kochi, thanks to the presence and influence of 'mentor Shashi Tharoor'.

Apart from the then Union minister of state, who backed the Gaikwad family, and Kochi-based developer Vivek Venugopal, 1% paid equity holder, all other promoters only wanted Ahmedabad.

In fact, the Gaikwad family that owns 25% free equity in RSW, suggested that even at the time of bidding in March, the Gujarat lobby only wanted to write 'Ahmedabad' in the space left to fill the desired city for a franchise. "We had to constantly tell them that it had to be 'Kochi'," they say.

"Why else would a motley group of influential Gujarati businessmen invest over $300 million in Kochi, which didn't even have infrastructure," explained another source.

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