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February 16, 2012
The Pune Warriors will remain in the IPL and its parent company Sahara will continue its sponsorship of the Indian team, it was announced on Thursday, ending a public and bitter dispute between the Indian board and its long-time corporate partner. The two sides released a joint statement, almost a fortnight after Sahara's dramatic exit from top-flight Indian cricket, which spelled out the terms of the agreement.
The major concession Pune seem to have won is the restoration of its auction purse of $1.6 million and the licence to buy players who were not sold at the auction and also foreign players who were not part of the auction.
The other concessions include: an extension of the trading window till the end of February, the possibility of being allowed more than the norm of four overseas players (subject to the agreement of the other franchises), and an arbitration process to decide on their demand for a concession in the franchise fee.
Sahara has also been given the right to stage one of the IPL play-off games subject to the consent of Royal Challengers Bangalore, the original hosts. The BCCI also said it would consider Sahara's request to furnish a bank guarantee for its franchise fee in two instalments.
Sahara's decision to continue its sponsorship of the Indian national team had this proviso: "Sahara may want to exercise its right to assign the sponsorship as per the agreement," implying the possibility of Sahara sub-letting the rights.
Sahara chairman Subrata Roy, while welcoming the agreement, said one of his requests had not been included. "We had strongly requested for an open auction in 2013," Roy said. Though he remained in his offices in one of the Sahara hotels in Mumbai, the camp appeared upbeat and his two sons - who were closely involved in the negotiations - were seen walking purposefully and wishing officials and members of the media.
IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla was happy the dispute was resolved. "Whatever issues were there, have been addressed," he said. "Whatever was possible within the framework, has been achieved. We have not bent rules."
One of Pune's cricketers, the left-arm spinner Murali Kartik tweeted: "Great news..Pune Playing..guessing right that all the players are relieved..phew."
It was not immediately clear, though, whether Sahara's decision to rejoin the fold was contingent on all conditions being ultimately met, and whether other franchises had been consulted during the negotiations. Franchise officials contacted by ESPNcricinfo said they had come to know of the news through the joint statement and had not been formally contacted by the BCCI. They had not, they said, decided their stand on the issues that relate to them.
Today's announcement followed hectic negotiations over the past few days and a fair bit of posturing and selective leaks. Officials said negotiations were fraught with complications given the high stakes involved and the BCCI team's need to clear every major decision with their seniormost officials. Even as late as Thursday afternoon, they said, chances of a deal were hanging by a thread.
Sahara had threatened to walk away from both the league and Indian cricket an hour before the IPL auction earlier this month. The dispute arose around a request by Sahara to be allowed to add their star signing Yuvraj Singh's to their auction purse for the February 4 auction after it was learnt that Yuvraj could not take part in the IPL.
The truce comes three days after a meeting of the BCCI's working committee at which almost all of Sahara's requests were turned down.
Edited by Jayaditya Gupta
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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