One day after the All India Tennis Association (AITA) banned private promoters from holding ATP and WTA events in the country, instead deciding to take complete control of future events, Mahesh Bhupathi's sport management company Globosport hit back.
On Monday, AITA secretary-general Anil Khanna had addressed the media saying: "The AITA committee unanimously approved that henceforth AITA would not permit private entrepreneurs to take up any WTA or ATP events as their interest is only to make profits and, in any case, they are unable to find sponsors, they are quite capable of putting the image of the nation at risk and not honour the commitment of the nation to international events of such magnitude."
AITA's move comes after the ATP Bangalore event, Big Live, and the Sunfeast Open were put on hold due to various reasons.
While the Bangalore event has been postponed — possibly to next year — apparently due to 'security reasons', the Sunfeast Open has been cancelled owing to the AITA's claim that the promoters, Globosport, had transferred their sanctioning rights to another party.
Reacting to Khanna's statement, Globosport vice-president, Anirban Blah told HT that the Sunfeast Open had, in fact, been cancelled because "it was clashing with the Tier I event Kremlin Cup in Moscow. We didn't know players would be forced to go to Moscow by the WTA roadmap.
"We didn't know what sort of players would come to play here and we put things on hold," Blah added.
Blah also rubbished Khanna's claims of profit being the only motivating factor in Globosport's working.
"Every time a tournament is conducted, it's sanctioned by AITA along with the sanctioning fee," Blah said. "Irrespective of whether we are able to make any profits, AITA are anyway guaranteed of profits through the sanction fee."
Asked about the compensation the WTA could demand for the cancellation, Blah merely said: "We are working very closely with the Women Tenniss Association."
Held in Kolkata since inception in 2005, the Sunfeast Open had to be shifted because the WTA dates allotted clashed with the Durga Puja. It has over three editions seen players like Anastasia Myskina, Elena Likhovtseva, Martina Hingis and 2007 Wimbledon finalist French Marion Bartoli among others.
Strangely Khanna, who went public with his displeasure about the whole issue only a day before, seemed surprisingly low-key on Tuesday.
"Our policy does not keep companies like Globosport out. We will have complete control and we will take their help in making the events successful," he said.