New Delhi:The Kochi IPL team is owned by the Gaikwad family's Rendezvous Sports World Private Limited. Speaking to NDTV, Satyajit Gaikwad, confirmed that the group has asked Sunil Gavaskar to head the Kochi team's cricketing operations. Gavaskar was recently dropped from the IPL's governing council. Gaikwad denies that his group began negotiating Gavaskar's role when it bid for the Kochi franchise - at the time, the former captain was a part of the IPL, and business talks with a group that was trying to buy a team would have constituted a conflict of interest.
Kochi won the IPL franchise in March this year, beating bids from Pune and Ahmedabad, which had bigger consortiums who were allegedly backed by powerful politicians and members of the IPL. Kochi's victory was seen as a surprise coup, one that many attributed to the patronage and advise of then minister, Shashi Tharoor. He later resigned as minister because of allegations that his link to the Kochi group was inappropriate, given that his then companion , Sunanda Pushkar, was a part of the consortium and had been promised sweat equity worth 70 crores (Pushkar surrendered that equity and is now married to Tharoor).
Here is the complete transcript of Gaikwad's interview to NDTV.
NDTV: You are saying that Mr. Sunil Gavaskar will be supporting your team and is a part of your team. Why are you revealing it at this point?
Gaikwad: In fact, Mr. Sunil Gavaskar has unconditionally supported the Rendezvous Sports Pvt. Ltd. and in between I think the consortium partners, and we as a team of Gaikwads, have approached him if he could look into the cricketing aspects of the IPL Kochi team. But he was not very sure of joining that, and may be now he has declared his unconditional support to the IPL Kochi team. At the time of bidding, Rendezvous Sports Pvt. Ltd, we all consciously bid for the Kerala Cricket Association and the state of Kerala, the Kochi team, of course keeping in mind that Mr. Shashi Tharoor was very keen and had been a mentor. So we had always thought of doing whatever we decided, and in between when it was the question of who would be advisor to us on cricketing matters, it was a unanimous decision by everyone that Mr. Sunil Gavaskar is one of the best, but then he refused to participate with us as he was a member of the governing council.
NDTV: At this point do you believe he will help sort out the differences within the franchise?
Gaikwad: May be, he has a larger goal to sort out the differences within the franchise as now he's no more a member of the governing council, but when he was a member of the council he had strictly said that he won't be able to speak to us on this matter, till I take the permission of the board or till I am no more a member of the governing council. Keeping this in mind. I think we did approach him, once he was out of the governing council. At the same time, some consortium partners have also approached him once he was out of the governing council.
NDTV: But Mr. Gaikwad, at the time of the bid, Mr. Gavaskar was a member of the council. Isn't that a conflict of interest?
Gaikwad: At the time of the bid he was not a part of us, now he is not a part of the council and so he wants to be a part of us. It is clearly a decision by Mr. Sunil Gavaskar based on the fact that we have jointly and individually approached him to guide us on the cricketing issues.
NDTV: But were there some talks when he was a part of the IPL?
Gaikwad: No, how can there be talks? Because we had no guts to talk to him when he was in the capacity at the management in IPL. I think we have are all grown up, individually and collectively.
NDTV: But it was initially said that a former Indian captain was a part of the Kochi franchise, and pushed it to get the bid?
Gaikwad: The bid was strictly won on the 333.333 million offer we had put. I think if the bid was won on the capacity of an individual or someone from inside the BCCI, then I think they would have preferred the Adani group - that is a 150,000 crore company rather than supporting a consortium madly in love with cricket.