The Indian Premier League's Governing Council cleared the decks for M S Dhoni's return to Chennai Super Kings by allowing teams to buy back a maximum of five players at the auction next year.
Effectively, the IPL Governing Council has enabled CSK and Rajasthan Royals, the two franchises which will make a comeback to the league in the 2018 edition after serving a two-year suspension for alleged spot-fixing and betting, to retain the players which were on their 2015 roster.
Dhoni had played for the Rising Pune Supergiants (RPS) in the last two editions but now can go back to CSK with the decision taken by the IPL Governing Council here. He was CSK's captain at the time of its suspension.
"An IPL Franchise is eligible to secure up to five players by virtue of a combination of Player Retention (Pre Player Auction) and Right to Match (RTM) (During the Player Auction)," BCCI Acting Secretary Amitabh Choudhary said in a statement after the meeting.
"The player pool available for CSK and RR for retention/RTM will be the players' who played for them respectively in IPL 2015 and who were part of RPS and Gujarat Lions squads in IPL 2017," he added.
RTM refers to a franchise's right to match the highest bidder for a player it is interested in.
CSK and Rajasthan Royals were suspended owing to the 2013 spot-fixing scandal, which shook the league to its core and allegedly involved not just players but also some top officials of the two franchises.
The IPL Governing Council also hiked the salary budget of the franchises from Rs 66 crore to Rs 80 crore for the next year's auction, tentatively set for February. For 2019 and 2020, the cap will be increased to Rs 82 and Rs 85 crore respectively.
Regarding the the rules on retaining players, a total of Rs 33 crore from the Rs 80 crore purse will be deducted if three players are retained by the franchise before the auction.
To further explain the math, the first player to be retained pre-auction will get Rs 15 crore, the second player will get Rs 11 crore and and third Rs seven crore. Therefore, the team that retains all three players will go into the auction with a reduced purse of Rs 47 crore.
Top players such as Virat Kohli, who turned up for Royal Challengers Bangalore till this season, will most likely come in the Rs 15 crore bracket as they will be the most sought after by their old teams.
"The minimum spend will be 75 per cent of the salary cap for each season," the BCCI stated.
The minimum auction reserve price of uncapped players has also been raised with the upper limit increased to Rs 40 lakh from Rs 30 lakh.
For the capped players, who were earlier bracketed in the Rs 30 lakh and Rs 50 lakh category, the new base price will be Rs 50 lakh and Rs 75 lakh respectively.
IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla said all decisions were taken after reaching a consensus with the teams.
"Almost six out of eight teams wanted about 6 to 8 retentions. In a way, we have found a middle path (with the possibility of buying back five players through retention or RTM)," said Shukla.
He further said that auction will be held in the last week of January or early February.
On the Rs 550 crore compensation that the court has asked the BCCI to pay to the defunct Kochi Tuskers, Shukla said the matter will be tabled in the SGM here on December 11.