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Sahara open to negotiations on Pune Warriors

Sahara Group's chief Subroto Roy on Tuesday said that he was open to negotiations with the BCCI as far as his IPL team Pune Warriors was concerned but made it clear that the group was no longer keen in sponsoring the Indian cricket team.

Sahara India ended its 11-year-old financial ties with the BCCI and also pulled out of the IPL auction last weekend after it accused the cricket board of not giving due consideration to its genuine grievances.

"If really needed I will not give a second thought," Roy said when asked if he would like to continue with Pune Warriors this IPL season. "That's the highest priority in my mind. I don't know what will happen in future years also...anything can happen. But this is certain that players should play, secondly Pune people are so excited for the 1st tournament there...it should have been there...it will happen. 

We have to come out with some way or the other...we are very flexible about it and I am sure that when we will sit we will amicably come out with very good solutions that these things should not happen. Right from the beginning I have said my first concern I my team and they have to play this tournament," Roy told 'CNN-IBN'.

Roy's statement comes a day after BCCI president N Srinivasan said that the board was open to dialogue with Sahara and was willing to resolve the contentious issues.

"(My) first concern is that our players this year should not be deprived of playing IPL. I have already requested BCCI to get them in any organisation fast so that they can play in this IPL. I don't want that BCCI and our team should be in problem in any manner. I am sure when we will sit we will come out with good solutions," Roy reiterated.

Asked about the possibility of reconciliation with the BCCI, Roy noted, "I can't say at this stage. We have to appreciate one thing; we have already announced a huge plan for social work including development of sports which will involve thousand crores of rupees."

One of Sahara's major grievances was the BCCI's refusal to the franchise's request that the price of marquee player Yuvraj Singh -- currently undergoing chemotherapy in US for a malignant lung tumour -- be added to their overall purse for the auction.

"Today minus Yuvraj we don't have one Indian player of the top 12 or 15 and we have to field seven of them. Some teams have 4-5 players. We were deprived of the older teams...last time 16 best players were retained and we had nobody, somehow Yuvraj was with us. Our team wanted (Ravindra) Jadeja but nobody was listening."

On the other teams getting benefits that Pune did not get, he said, "My complaint is 100% there, last year only I had said you should open the auctions because there are two new teams and there should be level playing fields. "In the interest of the tournament I had told them that if all the teams are properly balanced we will enjoy each and every match. It is good for the tournament. I don't know people are taking it as a war."

Asked if the IPL auction is held again, Roy said, "I would have accepted any such negotiation but I have to think twice...I won't be able to do it probably because I have already announced a huge social work with this money and I cannot come back from my commitment."

Talking about conflict of Interest with Srinivasan, Roy said, "I should not comment on this. But Mr. Srinivasan said that I am very sorry to hear that I want to withdraw. Since he has a team so he said I am away from these decisions or discussions. What I don't understand that he says that he is having a team, he should not involve in these things, but he is the BCCI president also. He has to involve himself.

Roy said he did not get the respect he deserved from the BCCI. "Not in one issue but in number of issues they have not given us minimum respect that we deserve. Talking further about reconciliation with the board, he said, "Even the sponsorship, if you talk about 10 years back it was a bit difficult but now cricket is very rich and there are many people who are interested to be as a sponsor...so I don't think there is any problem. But I have promised them I am not going to walk out till they get the right sponsors."

On glamour of the IPL having limited value than social work, he said, "Cricket sponsorship and the IPL is much more glamorous from the brand image point of view. No comparison. IPL is a very good investment. The decision of pulling out of IPL was not an overnight decision. I had informed the decision of withdrawing almost a month in advance."

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