MUMBAI // Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab have had their Indian Premier League licences revoked for alleged breaches of their franchise agreements and new club Kochi has been ordered to finalise its ownership structure within 10 days. The Board of Control for Cricket in India announced the unanimous decision after an emergency meeting today. The Royals, led by Australian great Shane Warne and winners of the inaugural tournament in 2008, and Kings have been at the centre of corruption allegations involving the league's former commissioner Lalit Modi. The BCCI suspended Modi earlier this year and set up a committee in July to investigate bribery allegations in the 2008 awarding of the bids for franchises in the lucrative Twenty20 league. But BCCI president Sashank Manohar said the elimination of the Jaipur-based Royals and Kings XI Punjab, who have Australian paceman Brett Lee and Sri Lankan wicketkeeper-batsman Kumar Sangakkara under contract, had nothing to do with Modi. "The decision to terminate the contract of Punjab and Rajasthan franchises were taken purely based on legal opinion we received and the breaches committed by these franchises," he told reporters after the board announced its unanimous decision. Those breaches, he said, involved unsanctioned changes in shareholding patterns, or differences between the names of the bidders and those who eventually entered the agreements. Modi has denied any wrongdoing in the bidding process, and says his running of the highly successful IPL was completely transparent.
The BCCI issued a notice to Kochi, asking that it resolve internal disputes over the ownership shares.
Dozens of international cricket stars are contracted to the Indian Premier League. There was no immediate indication if the clubs would be replaced or what would happen to the players contracted to the Royals and Kings. The IPL had been expected to expand from eight to 10 clubs in 2011, its fourth season.
But the next season is already in doubt, with Rajasthan considering a legal challenge to the decision.
Raj Kundra, one of the co-owners of the Rajasthan club, told Press Trust of India: "I don't see IPL 4 happening if the BCCI treats other teams like this."
"The termination of the contract by BCCI is shocking. We are seriously thinking of a legal action. We need to see a copy of the termination notice and study it," Kundra said.
Rajasthan and Kings XI Punjab were two of the original eight clubs in the tournament which revitalised cricket globally and sparked a range of other Twenty20 events around the world. The bidding for the franchises attracted high-profile business owners and Bollywood celebrities in cricket-mad India. Rajasthan Royals was owned by Emerging Media and acquired for $67 million (Dh246m). Indian actress Priety Zinta is one of four owners of the Kings XI Punjab. The group paid $76 million for the Mohali-based team.