India news February 13, 2012

No resolution in BCCI-Sahara impasse

The impasse between the BCCI and Sahara India continues with the board, whose working committee met on Monday, saying it would not make an exception for the Pune Warriors IPL franchise. N Srinivasan, the BCCI president, said the board had sent a proposal to Sahara but did not mention its details.

Sahara is yet to respond to the proposal but the company's officials have made public the concerns they raised at yesterday's meeting with the BCCI top brass in Mumbai. These include a replacement player for Yuvraj Singh, who is expected to miss the entire 2012 season; the holding of a player auction next year to level the playing field; a 27% reduction in their annual franchise fee; finding a strategic partner for the franchise; and the fact that Sahara was the only owner asked for a bank guarantee for the franchise fee.

ESPNcricinfo has learnt, though, that most of these requests were turned down because they were not in the framework of the IPL's rules. "Except for allowing them to have a strategic partner on board of the Warriors franchise, no other request was approved," a member of the BCCI's working committee said.

For the record, Srinivasan said these grievances had been "communicated" to the working committee and the response was positive but "within the framework of its rules." The board, he said, "cannot create an exception because observance of the regulation strictly is important to the integrity of the league."

Asked if the IPL was willing to accept Sahara's request to allow a replacement for Yuvraj Singh, Srinivasan said that was possible. "I am told, as per the rules, Sahara can have a replacement for Yuvraj. That is not an issue."

The reality, though, could be different. The BCCI appears wary of giving in too much for fear of "opening a Pandora's box", the official said. "Every now and then a franchise would ask for such concessions."

Another problem is time: with the IPL starting on April 4 and the trading window closing at the end of the week there are still issues to sort out. The Sahara camp appears calm, at least for the moment, and is waiting for the BCCI communiqué on today's developments. "We have kept it open, they have kept it open," he said.

Sahara spoke instead through the two-page document elaborating on the issues that were discussed at Sunday's meeting. The first request dealt with the replacement for Yuvraj, who is being treated for cancer. Sahara said it proposed an open auction of players in 2013 to ensure a level playing field; until then, it said, the team should be allowed one extra foreign player in the XI.

Sahara also said it had bid for the franchise - eventually paying $370 million - on the basis of a 94-match IPL, but only 74 games were played in 2011. Accordingly, it sought a 27% cut in its annual franchise fee. "Considering the reduced number of matches that actually took place against the earlier representation of BCCI before tendering for the new franchise, we have ended up bidding 27% extra if we go by the revenues that we would have accrued from media rights, gate receipts, sponsorship revenue etc. There has to be a reduction in the Franchise Fee as per the above," Sahara's statement said.

The BCCI's contention, though, was that the tender for the new franchises in 2010 did not mention a specific number of matches.

Sahara's other key demand concerned the bank guarantee it was paying to the BCCI against the franchise fee. Roy is believed to have told Srinivasan that it was "discriminatory" to ask them to pay the bank guarantee when none of the original eight franchises did the same. The BCCI official, though, said the large sums involved in the 2010 auction - the Pune franchise fetched more than five times the price of some of the original franchises - necessitated some sort of guarantee.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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