Citing "unforeseen" circumstances over which it has "no control", the BCCI has postponed the IPL media rights bidding process that was scheduled for Tuesday. The board made the announcement late on Monday and did not specify when the bids would be opened.
The BCCI said that because the Supreme Court order on October 21 had made the Lodha Committee the "custodian" of the IPL tender process, the board, despite being well prepared, had to wait for directives from the committee before proceeding.
The board's release stated: "As the Committee has been entrusted by the Hon'ble Supreme Court with the mandate of overseeing the tender process and in effect is now the custodian of the IPL tender process and has to take all actions to safeguard the IPL tender and the interest of BCCI and cricket in India, the BCCI wrote to the Committee on 21st October 2016 itself immediately on receipt of the Judgment, inter alia seeking guidance on (a) whether to defer the IPL tender or (b) to cancel the same and (c) requesting that the name of the auditor appointed be intimated to the BCCI to ensure that he could be associated with the IPL tender. Further, BCCI has sent all the IPL Media Rights Tender documents to the Committee along with the Revised MRAs and relevant documents, which are yet to be issued to the Potential Bidders."
Offering a "sincere apology" to the bidders, the BCCI requested for patience. "The BCCI requests all bidders to appreciate that the events as have occurred were unforeseen and something over which the BCCI has no control."
After the court order came four days prior to the IPL bids being opened, the BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke wrote again to the Lodha Committee on Saturday, pointing out the "urgency in the matter". Shirke also mentioned the 18 companies that had bought tender document, saying a "large number of potential bidders" would be represented by overseas staff and the BCCI would need to lay out timelines to facilitate the process. Failing to do so would hurt the board's "commercial interests", the board told the committee.
The release issued on Monday stated: "The BCCI has accordingly sent requests on 23rd October 2016 and 24th October 2016 to the Committee on the aforesaid lines and requested for confirmation of receipt of emails and an urgent response to avoid any uncertainty in the IPL tender process to avoid any inconvenience to potential bidders. The BCCI also informed the Committee that any delay in responding and resultant uncertainty was hurting the commercial interest of the BCCI as it would lead to devaluation of the commercial rights that were to be awarded."
The prevailing uncertainty, the BCCI said, had put potential bidders on edge and they had put forth "numerous queries" and asked for a "clear roadmap on the way forward".
One of the bidders confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that it had sent an email to the BCCI on Sunday. The company had asked for the final Media Rights Agreement (MRA), which the BCCI had prepared after clarifying doubts through a two-round process with potential bidders. "We asked the board for the MRA, saying how do you expect us to enter the bidding without the documents (MRA) in hand," a senior company official said.
However, the official said they were prepared for the postponement keeping in mind the court was hearing the matter. "There was no urgency from our side. The new cycle of rights starts only from 2018."
The BCCI said the MRA could not be issued because it was awaiting a reply from the Lodha Committee, which the board said it finally got at 3.07 pm on Monday afternoon. The committee's response asked for "certain further undertakings" and "further clarifications". The BCCI said it had responded to the committee, which then replied by saying it would issue directions after "meeting amongst themselves".
"The BCCI, apart from the above communication, has so far at the time of going to Press, not received any further directions from the Committee, which is now the custodian of the entire process and has been tasked with the duty to ensure that the tender process is undertaken in a professional and transparent manner with least inconvenience to all stakeholders," the board said. "Once the BCCI receives a response from the Committee it shall bring the same to the notice of all stakeholders as the BCCI is currently not in a position to take any decision in the matter other than what the Committee recommends. In the absence of permission from the Committee to go ahead with the process scheduled for tomorrow, the BCCI is unable to do so."