All eyes were on Sahara India's response after the the BCCI decided to stand its ground on the competition rules of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and gave little away in terms of concessions to the estranged group. The ball is now in Sahara's court as they are expected to take a final call on continuing in the IPL and sponsoring the Indian team on Tuesday.
The BCCI working committee met in Chennai on Monday to discuss the points raised by Sahara during their meeting with the board's top brass on Sunday and was quick to reject the demand for an additional foreign player in the playing XI.
Later, addressing the media, BCCI president N Srinivasan expressed the board's inability to make exceptions by bending rules in the IPL for any franchise.
“Sahara had raised several issues with regard to the number of matches played last year. Issues were also there surrounding the quantum of bank guarantee and also with their composition of team. The BCCI responded positively within the framework of its rules. It is not possible to create an exception because observing the regulations strictly is important to the integrity of the league,” said Srinivasan.
Sahara had on February 4 decided to cancel its sponsorship deal with the BCCI and pull out Pune Warriors from the IPL, barely an hour before the players' auction.
The last straw was the IPL governing council's refusal to allow Pune skipper Yuvraj Singh's price to be added to the team's auction purse after he was ruled out of IPL V. In their meeting with the BCCI on Sunday, Sahara also asked to be allowed to field an extra foreign player, but it was rejected.
The other issue was BCCI returning part of the bank guarantee after the number of matches was reduced from 94 to 74 last year. The parent body has accepted to expedite the arbitration process to resolve the matter.
The Board was agreeable to grant two important demands, allowing Pune to take Yuvraj's replacement and take a strategic franchise partner on board.
Another positive for Sahara was that the Board was okay with Sahara bringing on board a commercial partner to run Pune Warriors. “We are open to addressing the issues raised by Sahara in the sponsorship deal,” the board chief said. Sahara have already paid the required installment money for the season, that is half of the total R 170 crores, and submitted the bank guarantee of the full amount.
Sahara's other grouse is that the BCCI did not show them respect due to a commercial partner and ignored some of their genuine concerns.
Sahara were cautious in their response and an official, on condition of anonymity, told HT that doors were still open and negotiations were on. “It's not at all a closed chapter. The process of dialogue is still on as far as various issues are concerned. So far we haven't received any official communication from the board about rejecting our demands.”
Reacting quickly to BCCI chief's media conference, Sahara gave its version of events in Sunday's meeting and accused the Board of leaking information after both parties had agreed to keep things confidential.