Iconic problem for IPL corporates

The bad news for the likes of Dr Vijay Mallya is that IPL regulations forbid a convenient hire-and-fire policy.

updated: May 23, 2008 12:10 IST
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After being criticized openly by the team owner Vijay Mallya, Rahul Dravid might have found support from his mates like Laxman, Shah Rukh and Kumble, but the fact is that some teams like Bangalore are now discovering that non-performing assets like Dravid have led to losses as undesirable as taxes! The bad news for the likes of Dr Vijay Mallya is that IPL regulations forbid a convenient hire-and-fire policy.

The Bangalore Royal Challengers are down and out. Strike one was CEO Charu Sharma's sacking, and while many fear strike two and three could be Chief Cricket Officer Martin Crowe and captain Rahul Dravid, the latter's case presents a problem for Dr Vijay Mallya.

No team can change or sell its icon player for 3 years, and must pay him his salary if even if he's dropped despite being available for selection. The same, in fact, goes for all foreign players on a 3-year contract.

So Mallya's hire-and-fire policy in cricket's new corporate avatar may cost him more millions. That's because while IPL franchises can trade players among themselves from next year, Mallya will have to pay high sums to recruit stars from other teams while losing money on those who've flopped for his team. And he isn't alone in thinking of those possibilities even as he tries to bring accountability within the team.

"Strategy and tactics are kept independent with the team manager and the coach. We have kept the management side of the franchise independent of sports. However we believe in the team. But in the end they have to perform on the day. I think we are very good on the table and on the day we want to perform," Yogesh Shetty, CEO, GMR Sports and owner of Delhi Daredevils, said.

The IPL auction provided protection for the players since most of them have signed 3 year contracts, which means Bangalore has to pay about 8 crore a year for just Dravid and Kallis each year. Multiply that into 3 and it's 24 crore.

But other team owners believe that there is no simple formula to calculate the returns on your investments in cricket.

"It cannot be that a certain corporate body looks at a batsman's average and says for example your average was 15.2 per cent last year and this year 15 % and year on year returns are expected to be 20%. I'm sorry, cricket does not work that way and I'm sure that the corporates are smart enough to understand that," Joy Bhattacharya, Team Director of Kolkata Knight Riders, opined.

But more than worrying about the returns, the likes of Mallya will soon think about paying even more exorbitant sums to buy some of the most successful yet expensive players like MS Dhoni or Andrew Symonds. With no salary caps from next year, their salaries could go through the roof, as yet another corporate concept comes into play - that of poaching.