At one end of the pitch, you have the likes of Mukesh Ambani, Subroto Roy and Vijay Mallya-each an owner of an IPL team. At another end, you have Messrs Shailendra Gaikwad, Chintan Shah, Mehul Shah, Vivek Venugopal, Harshad Mehta, Saket Mehta, Mukesh Patel… a seemingly motley bunch, shepherded by an even more unlikely minister, that has come together to buy the Kochi franchise by shelling out all of $333 million (about Rs 1,500 crore). Who are these gentlemen-who claim to be "likeminded and passionate about sports, especially cricket"-who managed to cock a snook at well-known business houses like the Adani Group and Venugopal Dhoot's Videocon?
Let's start with Gaikwad, Chairman of Rendezvous Sports World, who says he is a "businessman, sportsman and a resident of Mumbai". Gaikwad is confident he's onto a good thing. "We have studied the business model," he explains. Gaikwad is banking on IPL Chairman Lalit Modi's projections for 2011, by when he expects revenues per match to be $5.5 million; by the sixth and seventh year (2013 and 2014) that number is expected to spurt to $15 million and $20 million. Gaikwad also points out that although the English Premier League is valued at some $12 billion, three times that of the IPL, "it's facing an $800-million deficit. Here, we are talking about cash flow, which will only grow in future". Of all these gentlemen, only Venuopal , MD of Elite Industries, is based in Kerala. "A little over a year ago, we got together to form Rendezvous… Kerala has immense potential and there is great headroom for growth," says Venugopal.
Gaikwad adds that the consortium is currently working out the requirements for cricket infrastructure in Kerala, in coordination with the Kerala Cricket Association. The game has only just begun.