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IPL-II: Celebrity owners on a sticky wicket
[Image: 2009051552090101.jpg]

New Delhi May 14 There appears to be a strong inverse relationship between the celebrity status of the owner of an IPL team and its performance. Whether this relationship is also causal will be known after a few years.

However, as the table below suggests, the biggest celebrity without doubt is Mr Shah Rukh Khan. His team has the lowest score of three points.

Last year, in IPL-1, it was the Rajasthan team whose owner was not well known. It went on to win the tournament.

This year the team was taken over in part by Ms Shilpa Shetty who became a celebrity after her encounter with the late Jade Goody. Its performance has since declined.

The Bangalore team, which is as star-studded as a team can be, did badly last year but has improved its position this year. Mr Vijay Mallya, its owner, is known for his singular lifestyle, and is a global celebrity, not merely an Indian one. Mr Mallya’s Formula One team, Force India, is also near the bottom of the Grand Prix standings.

Mumbai stands somewhere in-between. Mr Mukesh Ambani, though as well known in urban India as Mr Barack Obama in the US, is not quite what can be properly described as a celebrity. His team has thus median points.

The Chennai team, on the other hand, is owned by the unassuming and unsung India Cements. It is at No 2 place with 13 points.

But it is really the Delhi team that proves the point beyond dispute. Its owner, GMR, is the least well known of all, and it has the highest number of points.

In 2008, after the 14 matches that lead to the semis, there was only one celebrity-owned team in the top four, Punjab. The bottom four had two celebrity-owned teams – Bangalore and Kolkata. Mumbai was in the middle like this time.

A former cricketer close to the current Indian team and also many of the players say that the key difference may lie in the interference factor. “You have to leave it to the coach and captain, you know, to decide things. The game is won mainly by on-field tactics, not off-field strategies.”

“I don’t think star status has much to do with it,” says Mr Anirban Das Blah of Globosport. “It comes down to the ability and focus of the owner which is not necessarily linked to being a star.”

In football, where there are not many celebrity owners, it is the reverse. Mr Silvio Berlusconi owns AC Milan, which is doing quite well. So is Manchester City, which is owned by a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family and member of the UAE’s Cabinet. Another celebrity is Mr Franz Beckenbauer, who is part-owner of Bayern Munich.

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