Pune and Rajkot are the two new franchises in the Indian Premier League (IPL), replacing the suspended Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals.
The new teams fill the void left by the two-year suspensions on the Chennai and Rajasthan franchises following an illegal betting scandal that broke out in 2013.
The Twenty20 tournament’s chairman Rajiv Shukla said New Rising, a subsidiary of the Sanjeev Goenka group, bagged the Pune franchise, while Delhi-based Intex Mobiles picked up Rajkot in open bidding.
Shukla said the owners had not paid the usual franchise fees to tournament organisers for the right to field teams, but would instead forgo payments from a central pool of money made up of cash from TV rights and sponsorship.
“This speaks to the enduring popularity of the tournament, that instead of us paying them money they are going to pay us,” Shukla told reporters after the auction in New Delhi.
New Rising have agreed to pay around $3.4 million annually for the Pune franchise for the next two years and Intex will pay about $1.5m for the Rajkot team.
The auction followed the decision by India’s cricket board to ban Chennai and Rajasthan from the glitzy tournament on the recommendation of a Supreme Court-appointed panel.
The 2013 IPL season was mired in controversy after police launched legal proceedings against several officials from the two teams and three Rajasthan players for illegal betting and spot-fixing.
Five players from each of the Chennai and Rajasthan franchises will be drafted into the new teams on December 15, while the rest will feature in an auction in Bangalore on February 6, Shukla said.
Both Chennai and Rajasthan are expected to return to the IPL after their bans end after the 2017 edition.
The barred Super Kings, led by India’s World Cup-winning captain MS Dhoni, are the most successful team in the IPL’s history, having won the tournament in 2010 and 2011 and finishing runners-up four times.
The Royals won the inaugural event in 2008 under the captaincy of Australian spin legend Shane Warne, but have failed to make the final since.
Since its launch in 2008, the IPL has become hugely popular by paying mega salaries to big-name international players who perform against a glamorous backdrop of dancing girls and Bollywood stars, who part-own the teams.
But despite attracting big audiences, it has been dogged by scandal, including allegations of corruption, spot-fixing and crooked umpires.
Pune did have an IPL team from 2010 to 2013, where they played under the ‘Warriors’ name. It is the first time Rajkot have featured in the event.