Sahara patches up with BCCI; will remain Team India sponsor

Express news service Posted: Feb 16, 2012 at 1857 hrs
New Delhi The BCCI and the aggrieved Sahara Group today reached a compromise after a series of hectic negotiations over the past few days, paving the way for Pune Warriors' participation in the fifth edition of the IPL.

Sahara, which had severed ties with the Board and withdrawn the Team India sponsorship on February 4, will return as a sponsor following the truce which brought an end to the 12-day stalemate.

Both BCCI and Sahara issued a joint statement, giving details of the agreement which envisaged a reactivation of the auction purse for Pune Warriors and an extension of the trading window among other things.

Regarding the contentious issue of replacement for marquee player Yuvraj Singh, who is undergoing treatment for cancer in United States, Sahara has offered to obtain the consent of all the franchises for fielding five foreign players for the IPL matches.

"The trading window, which was due to close on Friday 17 February, until Wednesday 29 February 2012 to give Pune Warriors India the opportunity to have successful negotiations with other franchises as it looks to strengthen its squad," the joint statement said.

"Re-activation of the Auction Purse of Pune Warriors India so that it can take a number of players, subject to the squad composition regulations," it added.

The BCCI and Sahara also agreed to start the arbitration proceedings initiated by Sahara through appointment of an arbitrator to address the corporate giant's claims for a reduction in franchise fee for 74 matches.

The BCCI also did not have any issues with Sahara seeking a strategic partner in the Pune Warriors India franchise, subject to terms of the Franchise Agreement.

"In respect of their request to sign overseas players who were not included in the Auction Register, subject to the relevant player regulations, BCCI agrees to the request subject to the views of all other franchise," the joint statement, signed by BCCI President N Srinivasan and Sahara Group Chairman Subrata Roy, said.

Sahara also requested for one of the play-off matches scheduled to be played in Bengaluru to be played in Pune, and the BCCI said it was in principle agreeable to host one of the play-off in the new Pune stadium subject to the consent of Royal Challengers Bangalore.

The right to host the Play Off matches is awarded to the finalists from previous edition, in this case Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Sahara has also requested to furnish the Bank Guarantee against the Franchisee fee in two installments and the BCCI has agreed to consider it at the next available opportunity.

"Notwithstanding the recent working committee decision rejecting 5 foreign players in the playing XI, in consideration of the exceptional circumstance and the non-availability of Yuvraj Singh, Sahara has offered to obtain the consent of all the franchises for the submission to the BCCI," said the statement said.

BCCI said in line with its normal practice, it will continue to engage with all franchises to find ways to enhance the competitiveness of the league and improve the fan experience.

"Sahara confirms that it will continue sponsorship of the Indian team. Sahara may want to exercise its right to assign the sponsorship as per the agreement," said the statement.

Sahara, sponsor of the Indian team for over 11 years, decided to part ways with the BCCI on February 4, complaining that the Board did not give due consideration to its genuine grievances with regards to players and number of matches in the IPL. The decision to severe all ties with BCCI was taken just hours before the IPL auction got underway in Bangalore.

The BCCI's Working Committee had met in Chennai on February 13 but had failed to resolve the standoff.

The Board's Working Committee rejected some demands of the long-time sponsor and refused to make "exceptions" for the company which will now have to decide its future in the IPL.

After over three hours of deliberation at its Working Committee meeting, the BCCI said it had communicated its decisions with regards to Sahara's demands to the company and was hoping for a "favourable response".

The BCCI had also made it clear that while it could show some flexibility but it should not be expected to make exceptions for the corporate giant, which owns the costliest IPL team.

Sahara had signed a renewed sponsorship agreement with the BCCI on July 1, 2010 till December 31, 2013 and was paying Rs. 3.34 crore per Test match, one-day international and Twenty20 International under the new terms. The deal is said to be worth Rs. 532 crore.

The BCCI stands to lose close to Rs 2000 crore if no solution is found. However, the Board can find another sponsor to neutralise the losses.