The Indian Premier League (IPL) took out newspaper advertisements inviting bids to set up a new team to play in the glitzy Twenty20 tournament that has transformed cricket in recent years.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which owns the event, is looking to replace the cash-strapped Deccan Chargers, who were thrown out for financial violations including failing to pay players.
The advertisement, placed in the Times of India, said that the new team had to be based in one of 12 named cities, including Ahmedabed, Dharamshala, Hyderabad and Kochi.
“The winning bidder will be granted the right to own and operate a new team which will compete in the IPL each year from and including 2013,” it said.
The BCCI added that the franchise would have to meet its eligibility criteria, and would have the right to qualify for the international Champions League Twenty20.
Hyderabad-based Deccan Chargers were expelled from the IPL on Saturday after its owners failed to meet a deadline to submit $19 million as guarantee money to the Bombay High Court.
Deccan Chronicle Holdings, a media company that bought the team for $107 million before the inaugural IPL in 2008, announced last week it had agreed to sell the franchise to a Mumbai-based real estate firm.
But the deal now appears uncertain, with the team’s existence in doubt amid further legal wrangling.
The IPL has been a huge commercial hit in India, attracting large television audiences and many of the world’s best players such as Chris Gayle and Kevin Pietersen, but it has also been dogged by controversy.
The Kochi Tuskers were expelled last year over a financial dispute, while an attempt to eject the Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab over breaking ownership rules was blocked after a court battle.
IPL founder Lalit Modi fled India for London after being sacked in 2010 over allegations of corruption and money-laundering.
The Deccan Chargers, who had players like Kumar Sangakkara of Sri Lanka and South African fast bowler Dale Steyn in their ranks, won the tournament in 2009 but finished second-last this season.
Bids for the new team must be lodged by October 25, with the sixth edition of the IPL scheduled for April-May next year.