'Three years ago the Royals won the first ever IPL. Now look' Paul Radley Chaos returned to the Indian Premier League (IPL) last night as players, owners and sponsors began to count the cost of the expulsion of Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals. The governing council of the IPL have terminated the franchise agreements of the two teams, each of which had been at the centre of corruption allegations against Lalit Modi, the former league commissioner.
Emirates were two seasons through a three-year deal as the title sponsors of the Chandigarh franchise, Kings XI. The Dubai-based airline last night were resigned to the fact they would no longer be involved in the lucrative Twenty20 league, although they expect the franchise's owners to appeal the decision. "While it is disappointing that it appears the Kings XI Punjab will no longer be part of the IPL, Emirates remains committed to both India and the sport of cricket," said a spokesman for the airline.
The dramas which have pockmarked the short history of the IPL have always been played out almost immediately on Twitter. Most notably, Modi, the mastermind behind the rise of the 20-over league, set in motion a chain of events which eventually led to him losing his seat of power, with one tweet about Shashi Tharoor and his involvement in the Kochi bidding process. Yesterday was no different. The main protagonists were feverish with their tweets, with captains and owners seeking answers via the social media platform.
"I am honestly too shocked to react, just disheartened because it is more than just a team for us," Shilpa Shetty, one of the co-owners of the Royals, said. Meanwhile, Shane Warne, the Royals captain and coach, asked Shetty to keep him updated on developments and said the breaking news was "shattering to all". "Three years ago the Royals won the first ever IPL, the underdogs came good - what a story - and it gave the tournament credibility," Warne said. "Now look."
Even the ousted Modi had his say. He accused his successors at the helm of the IPL of being "hell bent on destroying something we Indians are proud of" to satisfy their "personal agendas". The intimation was clear: Modi believes the governing council aims to sully his IPL legacy by expelling the franchises with which he was most closely associated. The fate of the likes of Warne is now unclear. All IPL players were scheduled to be re-auctioned next month, but that has been knocked back until January.
With the new Kochi franchise also being investigated, and possibly set to suffer the same fate as Kings XI and Rajasthan, there could be as few as seven of the 10 franchises left. As such, IPL 4 would almost certainly be a non-starter.