BCCI hits back, blames Sahara for arbitration failure
The BCCI today rejected Sahara Group's claim that it had failed to expedite the arbitration process to reduce franchisee fee, saying that it has acted as per the rules and was not responsible for the situation.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Wednesday blamed Sahara Adventure Sports Limited for the failure of the arbitration and said the body "cannot be held responsible" for the breakdown of the process.
Sahara, who own the Pune Warriors India franchise, pulled out of the Indian Premier League (IPL) Tuesday due to BCCI's refusal to bring down the franchise fee for the IPL.
"While it is true that the arbitration has not progressed, the BCCI cannot be held responsible since every one of the eminent retired judges suggested by the BCCI was not found acceptable by the franchisee," BCCI said in a statement.
"In order to break this impasse, a letter was sent to Sahara Adventure Sports Limited, proposing that as the claimant to the arbitration, it should approach the court to appoint an arbitrator so that the process could move forward. Again, no response was received to this suggestion."
The cricket body confirmed that it had encashed the bank guarantee after "no payment was made and no response was received" from the Sahara group.
"The BCCI can, however, confirm that in order to satisfy the balance of the 2013 franchise fee of Rs.120 crore, which was overdue and owing to BCCI since April 3, 2013, it has encashed part of the bank guarantee put in place by Sahara Adventure Sports Limited," said BCCI.
"The IPL Governing Council met with representatives of the franchisee Feb 21 and received assurances that the franchisee would settle all obligations as they fell due. Once the April 3 due date had passed, the Governing Council had sent two letters to Sahara Adventure Sports Limited - one April 12 and the second April 24 - requesting settlement of the overdue amount. No payment was made and no response was received to the second letter and so, in order to protect its interests, the BCCI was forced to encash the guarantee."
BCCI said they had not been notified directly of the franchise's pullout and had learnt of the situation through the media.
"The BCCI has read in media reports that Sahara has purported to terminate its franchise agreement and to pullout of IPL, the 2014 season onwards. The BCCI has had no direct communication from its franchisee, Sahara Adventure Sports Limited, in this regard."
This is the second time that Sahara have pulled the plug. The first time it happened was in 2012 owing to similar reasons but they bridged their differences with BCCI and returned to the fold.
Sahara bought the franchise for Rs.1,702 crore in 2011 for 10 years, making Pune Warriors the most expensive team in the IPL.
Sahara have now said that they will not return to IPL "even if the entire fee was waived".
The group also said it was tempted to withdraw from the Indian cricket team's sponsorship but refrained in the interest of the players.
Pune Warriors finished eighth in the sixth season of the nine-team IPL, winning four of the 16 matches it played.