The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said it won't bend any rules for Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises but will address the issues raised by miffed Sahara India, which Saturday ended its multi-million dollar sponsorship of Indian cricket team and also walked out of the Pune franchise of the Twenty20 league.
Sahara cited several reasons for ending its 11-year-old sponsorship deal with the BCCI, the latest being its request in the IPL auction being turned down. Sahara wanted the IPL to add Yuvraj Singh's price into its auction purse after the southpaw was ruled out of the tournament with a lung tumour.
But BCCI turned the request down, prompting Sahara India to take the shocking step of exiting just hours before the players' auction for the 2012 season in Bangalore.
BCCI secretary Sanjay Jagdale said the board would meet Sahara officials soon and will clarify the issues.
"We understand that Sahara Adventure Sports Limited has issued a statement in which it indicates an intention to withdraw from its involvement in Indian cricket, including as regards the Indian Premier League (IPL). We intend to contact Sahara Adventure Sports Limited as soon as practicable to clarify its intentions," Jagdale said in a statement.
On the confusion surrounding Yuvraj, Jagdale said: "During the last few days, Sahara Adventure Sports Limited has requested that IPL vary its Player Regulations by allowing it to increase its Auction Purse from $1.6m to $3.4m in the light of Yuvraj's unfortunate illness."
"Whilst all within IPL and BCCI have a huge amount of sympathy for Yuvraj Singh and wish him all the best for a speedy recovery, it is unable to vary the Player Regulations," Jagdale said.
He said Sahara will get a chance to recruit replacement players in the trading window that opens Monday.
"The rules are very clear and are consistent with previous seasons. Sahara Adventure Sports Limited may take a replacement following the 2012 Auction. Additionally, the Trading Window will re-open on February 6 and Sahara Adventure Sports Limited will then have a further opportunity to take new players."
"In the first four seasons of IPL, other franchises have been obliged to cope with the periods of unavailability of their players and have taken replacements as per the regulations," the board secretary said.
IPL chairman and commissioner Rajeev Shukla, also a senior member of the BCCI, said it was extremely unfortunate that Sahara decided to snap all ties with the board on the day of the IPL auction.
"It's unfortunate but we have not received any formal notice. But the show will go on. The marketing committee will take a decision. Dialogue will always continue," Shukla told reporters here during the break after the first phase of auction in Bangalore.
IPL chief executive Sundar Raman said Sahara wanted flexibility in the rules, which they were denied.
"It would have been unfair on our part to accept their demands. It would be unfair to other franchises if we bend rules for one team," he said.
Sahara ended its more than a decade old association with the BCCI, citing instances where it has been denied "natural justice" in the IPL.
"We really feel such one-sided emotional relationship cannot be dragged (out) any further. We are withdrawing from all cricket under BCCI," Sushanto Roy, managing director, Sahara Adventure Sports Limited, said in a statement.
Sahara's current sponsorship deal with the BCCI is worth at $719,000 per match and will end December 31, 2013. Sahara bid $370 million to become owners of the IPL Pune franchise in 2010.