Sahara's pull-out evokes interest from other corporate biggies

May 23, 2013, 01:02 IST | Shreeram Prasad

If the BCCI is to be believed, then there is every chance of the Pune franchisee being resold

Pune Warriors India might be history as far as Indian Premier League (IPL) is concerned. But if BCCI is to be believed, then there is every chance of the Pune franchisee being resold, as and when the Board decides to sell it.

The Pune team
The Pune team. PIC/Suresk KK

The issue came into focus on Tuesday evening when the Sahara Group issued a media statement saying they are pulling out of the Pune IPL team due to BCCI not treating them well and encashing their bank guarantee.

“First of all, we have not heard anything officially from Sahara. We have just read about their pullout through media,” a top BCCI official told MiD DAY.

“And as far as the Pune franchise goes, we are 100 per cent sure that it would be resold. We have already got a few feelers with people declaring their interest in buying this franchisee,” the official added.

“And the feelers are from some Pune people, who are very much keen on keeping the team here itself,” he said. The official decision on the future of the Pune franchisee is yet to be taken, of course.

But it’s no secret that revenue from television rights is the backbone of the IPL, and nine teams would, on any day, earn more revenue than eight teams. Hence, the team being auctioned before the IPL-2014 looks the first and obvious choice.

The IPL’s Governing Council is set to meet on May 26, the day of Pepsi IPL-6 final, and the issue is likely to be discussed further in this meeting. “The Pune centre has held 17 IPL games so far (nine in 2012, eight in 2013), and it has been one of the highest gate money collecting centers in the tournament. And that’s the case despite Pune team not doing well in both the seasons.

“There is every reason for interested bidders to try and keep the team in Pune. But of course, it depends on whoever wins the bid. If the bid-winners decide to take the team to some other city, then that’s where it would go,” an IPL Governing Council member explained.

Not interested…
Meanwhile, City Group owner Aniruddha Deshpande, who headed the consortium that had put up a bid for the Pune franchise three years back, declared that they are no more interested in buying the Pune team, if on offer.

“The IPL brand has suffered a lot in the past three seasons. If you ask 10 people, at least seven of them would say IPL is entertainment. We are into sports and we want to be associated with sports. But there is a huge brand issue of whether IPL is sport or just entertainment. We have decided that we don’t want to be associated with IPL,” Deshpande told MID DAY.  

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