12th Oct 2010 - Mumbai: After the shock of being thrown out of the IPL due to several breaches in shareholding and ownership norms, Rajasthan Royals have now adopted an aggressive stance. RR chairman Manoj Badale says the owners are open to dialogue with the BCCI, but doesnt rule out a legal option either. Excerpts:
Was the franchise given any prior notice before Sunday that their contract will be terminated? Was there any indication of the sort in the last few months?
No, the show cause notice referred to in the media has not been received.
Do you think Rajasthan Royals have had to bear the brunt just because Suresh Chellaram (Lalit Modis co-brother-in-law) happens to be a stakeholder?
Its not for me to speculate on the motives behind the action. There have been consistent statements made to the media about RR ownership since April. In response, we have made clear statements of fact about our ownership, and we have sought meetings with the BCCI and the IPL.
Did you or any RR official, at any point of time in the last few months, make an effort to meet the BCCI president or secretary to present your case?
Yes, and we have signalled our desire to answer any enquiry or notice. Indeed, we will be seeking further meetings to present our view on the issues raised.
What other reasons you believe led to the termination? Do you feel the allegations levelled in the notice are more of procedural flaws than anything else?
Again, its not for me to comment. I would say that I am sure there were process and communication issues in a tournament that was launched in less than three months.
Whats your next step? Are you looking at any further dialogue with the BCCI?
We are always open to dialogue with the BCCI or the IPL governing council, as we have been for the last six months, and in the past. We will seek further dialogue, but if there is no desire for dialogue, legal recourse is the only option.
You have had extensive meetings with the Enforcement Directorate too. Was the ED dissatisfied with RRs explanation throughout? The whole problem seems to revolve around the share transfer?
We have been fully cooperative with the ED, with our owners committing significant time to the process. We have no indications of dissatisfaction from the ED. Yes, the issue cited is communication around the interim step of setting up an Indian operating company, while the set-up of the overseas holding company was completedall of which has been communicated. Fundamentally, at the end of the company set-up process, the ultimate shareholding pattern was as described in the bid submission document.
Did you not find it necessary to take the BCCIs permission in writing when Chellaram was introduced to the RR franchise?
He was not introduced to the franchise, as he was part of the original bidding consortium. He attended the first franchise owners workshop in Feb 2008, and has been visible at two thirds of our games. His involvement has been publicly supported by the BCCI in the media in 2008.
Raj Kundras stake in RR is also under scrutiny. The BCCI have alleged that things were deliberately hidden from them...
We never hid anything. In fact, the opposite is true. We introduced Raj Kundra to the BCCI-IPL before we concluded the deal. Furthermore, we have disclosed more information about our ownership structure than any other franchise given our voluntary FIPB submission in June 2009.
When Lalit Modi was running IPL, it was he who handled everything right from Day One. Is he responsible for all this mess?
Its true that Lalit was heavily involved in everything, but thats a trait of all entrepreneurs. How he handles the media and the BCCI is his prerogative. When he was the BCCI-appointed chairman and commissioner, we communicated with him extensively on all ownership related issues. Furthermore, we must not forget that it was his vision and leadership that has created one of the greatest sporting innovations in history. It is also so easy to forget the pace at which the IPL was createdfrom tender to first ball bowled in less than four months!
Could this whole situation have been handled better?
All I would say is that the franchise agreement is a commercial contract between two commercial organisations, and that contractual issues are normally sorted out around a table rather than via the media.
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