New Delhi: The Indian cricket board (BCCI) has claimed that it has not received any intimation from Sahara India, owners of IPL franchise Pune Warriors India, about its decision to withdraw from the IPL and discontinue its sponsorship of the Indian cricket team at the end it its existing agreement in December 2013.
A media release from BCCI secretary Sanjay Jagdale on Wednesday said: "The BCCI has read in media reports that Sahara has purported to terminate its franchise agreement and to pull out of IPL, the 2014 season onwards. The BCCI has had no direct communication from its franchisee, Sahara Adventure Sports Limited, in this regard. 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 3 April 2013, it has encashed part of the bank guarantee put in place by Sahara Adventure Sports Limited.
"The IPL Governing Council met with representatives of the franchisee on 21 February 2013 and received assurances that the franchisee would settle all obligations as they fell due. Once the 3 April 2013 due date had passed, the Governing Council had two letters sent to Sahara Adventure Sports Limited - one on 12 April 2013 and the second on 24 April 2013 - 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.
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. 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 BCCI has at all times acted in accordance with its franchise agreement with Sahara Adventure Sports Limited, and is not able to enter into a private negotiation on the quantum of the franchise fee which was offered by Sahara Adventure Sports Limited in its response to the Invitation to Tender floated by the BCCI in March 2010."
Sahara had on Tuesday announced that it was pulling out of the IPL having failed to pay the full franchise fee for the current year which resulted in the BCCI encashing the bank guarantee. Coming down heavily on the BCCI, Sahara said it was "disgusted" by the board's attitude towards it and would not rejoin the league even if the entire franchise fee was waved off. "...we would not keep the IPL franchisee even if the entire franchisee fee is waved off. It is firm and final decision of Sahara to withdraw from IPL," read a detailed statement.
Sahara bought the Pune franchise for a record Rs 1702 crore for 10 years. But they had a dispute regarding the reduction of the franchise fee as initially there were 94 matches which was later reduced to 74 matches.