‘Harassed’ Rajasthan Royals mull shifting their base from state – Times of India


MUMBAI: Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Rajasthan Royals are peeved with the “continuous harassment” they’ve been facing in Jaipur over the years and say they wouldn’t mind moving out to some other city.

It is for this very reason they wanted to play a few matches in Guwahati this year, but the request has yet again landed the franchise into another complicated situation.

On Saturday, two days after a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in the Rajasthan High Court over shifting of matches from Jaipur to Guwahati – a request from the Royals that is still pending on multiple fronts – top franchise officials spoke to TOI about how the cricketing ecosystem in the state has been ailing and taking a toll on their business interests.

“Be it the state’s sports council, under whose aegis the Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA) falls, the state machinery catering to law and order, the former officers of the RCA itself and political bigwigs in the state… they’ve all collectively given Rajasthan Royals nothing but trouble over the years. Plain harassment, that’s what we’ve suffered,” franchise officials told TOI.

Officials at the franchise say “even a back-of-the-envelope math on their revenues in Jaipur will show how the franchise has been losing money”. The demand for free tickets, be it from the police or other state-backed authorities and the mandatory allotment of seats to RCA are other festering issues that have forced the franchise into losses.

“Look at the stadium. It’s in such a bad state. The newly-elected body in RCA has just come in and they’ll need time even if they’re looking to correct things. The place has been a mess for quite some time now. Over the years, the RCA has failed to come up with good infrastructure anywhere outside of Jaipur,” franchise representatives said.

The owners of the franchise don’t want to speak on record yet. “As it is, we’ve always been seen as the ‘rogue’ IPL franchise. We’ve always found ourselves in some kind of trouble or the other. Making it personal will only lead us on to that path again,” said an official.

Guwahati, meanwhile, is a relatively fresh breath of air as the franchise looks to play two or three of their seven home matches there. “It’s a lovely ground. Some of our leading players visited there and praised the venue. There’s a strong Marwari presence in the northeast (Royals’ fan-base in Rajasthan) and we feel welcome there. That’s why we put in a request.”

Three petitioners – Rahul Kanwat, Vimal Chand Choudhary and Yogesh Kumar – approached the HC bench in Jaipur last week with a PIL that shifting of matches outside Jaipur would be disrespectful to the state. The respondents – Rajasthan Royals, among others – sought a short adjournment to the hearing to file the reply. The matter has now been listed for February 13.

TOI’s effort to elicit a response from all the concerned parties proved futile.



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