The Indian Premier League on Sunday cleared the new Kochi franchise to take part in the lucrative Twenty20 cricket tournament from next year, ending a long dispute over the team's ownership structure.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which owns the IPL, had delayed the decision on Kochi's fate three times after demanding its owners resolve a shareholding disagreement.
"The Kochi Franchisee has satisfactorily responded to the notice issued to them by the BCCI," BCCI secretary N Srinivasan said in a press release after a meeting of the IPL governing council in Mumbai.
"It has been decided that the franchise Kochi Cricket Private Limited would play in the IPL from 2011 onwards."
The inclusion of Kochi means at least eight teams and probably all ten teams will compete in the fourth edition of the IPL, which is set to start on April 8 next year.
The IPL, which started its first season in 2008, comprised eight teams before two more were added through a bid process in March this year.
While one winning bidder opted to operate a franchise out of Pune, a consortium of owners - the little-known Rendezvous Sports World group - bid US$333 million (Dh1,223m) for the Kochi franchise but soon fell apart after they found certain details of the ownership pattern kept in the dark from each other.
The controversies that ensued prompted the Indian tax authorities to probe into ownership details of all teams. Subsequently the BCCI, through their own investigations, disqualified two more teams - Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals - on grounds of misrepresentation of ownership details.
Incidentally both teams have a connection with Lalit Modi, the man credited with the creation of the successful tournament, and who has now fallen out of favour with the top officials.
Both teams have gone to court over the decision and an independent arbitrator ruled a stay on the suspension order last week. This means all 10 teams are technically in the fray for the next season with a fresh round of auctions to pick from a pool of players scheduled on January 8-9.