Sahara snaps ties with BCCI over IPL battle

Sahara Group chief Subroto Roy runs out of patience with BCCI; withdraws as Indian cricket team's sponsor

Sahara Group chief Subroto Roy defended their decision to part ways with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) alleging the governing body of being uptight while applying the rules of the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL).

Sahara Group chairman Subroto Roy during a media conference at a
city hotel on Saturday. Pic/Mahesh Chafe

In a sudden move to snap ties with the BCCI, Sahara India Parivar issued a statement on Saturday saying they were withdrawing as the team sponsor, thus ending an 11-year-long association and pulling out of Sahara Pune Warriors from the IPL as well. "We have taken the decision with a heavy heart, but we had no other option. Enough is enough," Roy told the media in Mumbai on Saturday.

Roy though, didn't seem rigid on pulling out of the sponsorship deal which was to run till 2013 and  withdrawing Pune Warriors franchise (in the name of Sahara Adventure Sports Limited) from the T20 extravaganza. "I am not saying we will sever all ties from tomorrow itself. We are ready to wait till BCCI finds a new sponsor.

Regarding the IPL franchise, I have requested the Board to find an interested party to take charge of the team," Roy said. The Sahara chief promised support for Pune Warriors' players who will be in the dock if Sahara refuses to field the team in the fifth edition of the IPL.

Players' IPL season shouldn't go waste
"I will definitely think of the players. Their IPL season shouldn't go waste. I have requested the BCCI to give the team to another interested party as soon as possible, so that it doesn't affect the players," he stated. Sahara sources pointed out that they may field the team this season only for the players' sake.  Roy didn't miss any opportunity to accuse the BCCI of being too watertight regarding implementation of rules in IPL.

"In sports, there should be some emotions attached and few things should be driven by heart and not by the rule book. Over the years, we have been deprived of many things. We wanted a replacement for Yuvraj, but they didn't permit us," he alleged.

Sahara is expected to make huge investments in both rural and urban sports for unearthing talent in all sports, particularly cricket. Besides developing 20 sports promotional centres all over the country, they have promised to have a fund of R10 crore (3 crore for cricketers, rest for other sports) each year to assist the old and retired players of the country.

Sahara's grievances

Our first entry into IPL was thwarted in 2008 when we were disqualified, owing to a small technicality.

* Last year, Sahara entered the IPL on the basis of information in the media and everywhere else that 94 matches will be played among 10 teams. The bid price was accordingly calculated, but only 74 matches were played. We are still pursuing continuously with the BCCI to refund the extra bid money proportionately.

We repeatedly tried our best to pursue the BCCI for open auction of all players so that we achieve all teams are equally balanced.

The two new teams then requested for allowing us at least one extra foreign player, but that too was denied.

During a World Cup tournament, Sahara's name was not allowed because there was a clash of our airline with a South African airline. In two major tournaments, the team had to play without the 'SAHARA' logo.  It was ICC's decision so we could realise that it was for no fault of BCCI and we also did not want the players to suffer.

We requested the BCCI on the basis of the fact that we have only one Indian marquee player to be allowed to add Yuvraj Singh's price. in our auction purse, but in vain.

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