The Sanjeev Goenka-led RPSG Group has won the bid for Lucknow at approximately INR 7000 crore, while private equity firm CVC Capital wins Ahmedabad at approximately INR 5200 crore.
It was a big day in the history of the Indian Premier League as business groups and conglomerates from all around the world congregated in Dubai to bid for the ninth and tenth IPL teams. As a result, starting next season, the IPL will once again become a ten-team tournament.
At least 22 groups were actively trying to buy the two new teams. Some of the biggest names from India and beyond flocked in to dip their toes in this expanding market.
From a global perspective, the biggest name was Lancer Capital, whose principal owner is Avram Glazer, the man whose family owns one of the biggest clubs in the world – Manchester United. Other potential bidders included Adani Group, the Sanjeev Goenka-owned business conglomerate RPSG, Jindal Steel, Torrent Pharma, Aurobindo Pharma and Hindustan Times Media, along with several private equity companies.
The reason behind this star-studded line-up of business groups and conglomerates was that the BCCI was attempting to keep the smaller groups away with a few checks kept in place. One of the requirements listed in the tender document was for the bidders to show a turnover of at least INR 3000 crore (US$400 million approx.) for the previous three years. In case of a consortium, each investor would need to show a turnover of at least INR 2500 crore (US$334 million approx.) for the same time period.
For instance, when the richest man in the country, Mukesh Ambani, bought the Mumbai Indians, it was for a record fee at the time – US$112 million. In 2010, the Sahara Group paid a whopping US$370 million for the Pune franchise. This time, however, with a base minimum bidding price of the two new teams starting at US$270 million, prices were always expected to sour dramatically.
In the end, the Sanjeev Goenka-led RPSG Group won the bid for Lucknow at approx. INR 7000 crore (US$932 million) while private equity firm CVC Capital won Ahmedabad at approx. INR 5200 crore (US$692 million).
The RPSG Group, which previously owned the Rising Pune Supergiant (2016-2017) team that filled in along with the Gujarat Lions for two seasons when the Chennai Super Kings and the Rajasthan Royals were banned, will now move to Lucknow’s Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Stadium, a new venue that was opened to the public only in November 2018 and can accommodate 50,000 people.
Meanwhile, CVC Capital is an international conglomerate with offices throughout Asia, Europe and the Americas. Previously, CVC had a stake in Formula One and recently took a minority stake in LaLiga, the top-flight football league in Spain. Now, the Narendra Modi Stadium, the largest cricket stadium in the world with a maximum capacity of 132,000, will be the home for its new team.
Talking to ESPNcricInfo, Sanjeev Goenka, owner of RPSG said: “It is good to be back in the IPL and I am delighted. It is an initial step. We now have to build a good team and perform.”
The 2022 edition will not be the first time the IPL will comprise of ten teams. It has been confirmed that the tournament will follow the 2011 model, which scrapped the home-and-away double round-robin format and included a 74-match tournament format instead of the regular 60-match format.
The 2011 edition saw the ten teams split into two loose groups, and the tournament consisted of 70 league stage matches followed by four playoff games. Additionally, during the league phase, every team played the same number of games (fourteen).
Each team played the other four teams in their group both home and away (eight games), four teams from the other group once each (either home or away), and the remaining team in the other group twice (both home and away). A random draw decided the composition of the groups as well as who played whom and where, with all teams ranked in one composite league table.
However, the loudest question raised after the announcement of the two teams was about the “retention” policy. In the previous mega-auction, every team were allowed to keep up to five players – either by retaining three and right-to-matching two – or retaining up to two and right-to-matching three. Although still a speculation, we’ll probably see every team allowed to retain fewer players than before, since the IPL governing council has to make some considerations to ensure the two new teams have enough top players from the auction pool to build their brand-new squads.
That’ll make things interesting for the likes of the Mumbai Indians, the Chennai Super Kings, the Delhi Capitals and perhaps even the Kolkata Knight Riders, as these teams have been the most successful ones in recent years with a strong core. There’s a lot to look forward to ahead of the next IPL season.