Sahara India back as Team India sponsor

Mumbai : Sahara India was Thursday back as cricket Team India sponsor and the owner of Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Pune Warriors after the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) agreed to most of its demands.

Sahara, sponsors for last 11 years, had decided to sever all its ties with the BCCI earlier this month citing denial of “natural justice”. The last straw that split the relationship was BCCI’s refusal to allow ailing cricketer Yuvraj Singh’s price to be added to Pune Warriors’ auction purse after the southpaw was ruled out of the tournament with a lung tumour.

After 12 days of intense negotiations, the two parties issued a joint statement here signed by BCCI president N. Srinivasan and Sahara India managing director Subrata Roy.

“Sahara confirms that it will continue sponsorship of the Indian team. Sahara may want to exercise its right to assign the sponsorship as per the agreement,” the statement said.

The BCCI agreed to extend the trading window, which was due to close Friday, until Feb 29 to give Pune Warriors India the opportunity to have successful negotiations with other franchisees as it looks to strengthen its squad.

The BCCI also said that it has re-activated the $2 million auction purse of Pune Warriors so that it can take a number of players, subject to the squad composition regulations.

BCCI also agreed to the appointment of an arbitrator as demanded by Sahara to address the claim for a reduction in franchise fee for 74 matches. Sahara, when they bid for the Pune franchise, were promised 94 matches but the IPL was then reduced to 74 matches.

Sahara said they paid 25 percent more than what they should have paid since the number of matches were reduced. Sahara bought the IPL franchise Pune Warriors for Rs.1,702 crore making it the costliest franchise in the IPL.

The BCCI also said that it does not have any issues with Sahara seeking a strategic partner in the Pune Warriors, subject to terms of the franchise agreement.

Sahara’s request of signing overseas players, who were not a part of the player’s auction, will be considered by the BCCI after taking views of all other franchise.

Despite working committee rejecting Sahara’s plea of including five foreign players in the playing XI, due to the absence of Yuvraj, the corporate major has offered to obtain the consent of all the franchises for the submission to the BCCI.

The BCCI has also addressed Sahara’s grievance of furnishing bank guarantee. Sahara were upset that despite never defaulting any payment in their sponsorship deal they have to furnish a bank guarantee in the IPL. In fact, they are the only franchise to do so.

BCCI has agreed to consider Sahara’s request to furnish the bank guarantee against the franchisee fee in two instalments in its next meeting.

Sahara has requested for one of the play-off matches scheduled to be played in Bangalore to be shifted to Pune.

Sahara signed a fresh sponsorship contract with the BCCI July 1, 2010, and it runs till Dec 31, 2013. According to the Rs.532 crore contract, Sahara will pay Rs.3.34 crore per Test match, one-day international and Twenty20 international under the new terms.

Sahara bought the IPL franchise Pune Warriors for Rs.1,702 crore, making it the most expensive franchise in the Twenty20 league. In all, the BCCI stood to lose around Rs.2,234 crore as a result of the Sahara pullout decision.

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