However, since there were only two bidders in the fray, the IPL authorities decide to cancel the bids and revise the criteria. The bank guarantee to be provided by the bidder is subsequently reduced from $100 million to $10 million. March 21 will now be when the fate of Dhoot's bid is decided.
Vijay Mallya, Chairman, UB Group
Subroto Roy, Chairman, Sahara Group
Mukesh Ambani, Chairman, Reliance Industries
The presence of heavy-hitters like Sahara and Adani amongst the bidders doesn't faze Dhoot (who is in the hotel but plans to make his presence felt only if he is one of the winners). "I was very confident-99 per cent sure that I would win. But then as they say in cricket: 'The Umpire's decision is final,'" grins Dhoot, whose flagship company bagged the franchise rights for India for the World Series of Boxing (WSB) last July.
Half an hour later, the Arcot room is abuzz as the results are announced. Sahara, with a $370-million bid, wins the Pune franchise. And the littleknown Rendezvous Sports emerges a surprise #2, with a bid of $333 million, to grab Kochi. Dhoot loses out by just a few million dollars. He's disappointed but hardly regretful. "Anything more than $320 million would not have made business sense," says the onetime captain of the cricket team of Pune's Ferguson College. And he isn't giving up on the IPL. "If anybody is willing to sell, we are ready to pick up a 10-20 per cent stake. But it should make business sense," stresses Dhoot. At the time of writing, Dhoot was keen to pick up to a 20 per cent stake in IPL team, King's XI, Punjab.
If it's sport, it has to be cricket. And these days, if it has to be cricket, it's got to be IPL-at least that's what team owners, wannabe team owners, advertisers, broadcasters, sponsors and fans seem to believe. Players who are being auctioned for record sums ($750,000 for Kieron Pollard in IPL 3 is perhaps equivalent to what the top 10 players in the domestic football I-league, the top tier in Indian football, earn in a year); broadcasting rights that are being sold for $1.64 billion for nine years with the broadcaster SET Max hoping to recover that, and more, by selling airtime at an average Rs 5 lakh for 10 seconds; a lead sponsor (DLF) that's willing to shell out Rs 40 crore a year for five years, and five associate sponsors who collectively bring in another Rs 90 crore annually; and don't forget the fans, many of whom in the East aren't thinking twice before forking out Rs 32,000 to watch a match sitting in a special VIP box with a tinsel town superstar (in Eden Gardens with Shah Rukh Khan, owner of the Kolkata Knight Riders).