BCCI hints at talks with Sahara

Zeenews Sports Bureau

Mumbai: After Sahara India`s decision to pull out as sponsor of the Indian cricket team and owner of the IPL franchise Pune Warriors, the BCCI is making efforts to pacify the corporate giant and retain its financial backing.

Sahara, sponsor of the Indian team for over a decade, decided to part ways with the BCCI, complaining that the Board did not give due consideration to its genuine grievances with regards to players and number of matches in the IPL.

Sahara had signed a renewed sponsorship agreement with the BCCI on July 1, 2010 till December 31, 2013 and was paying Rs 3.34 crore per Test match, one-day international and Twenty20 International under the new terms. The deal is said to be worth Rs 532 crore.

Sahara entered the IPL bandwagon last year by buying Pune Warriors for Rs 1702 crore, making it the costliest franchise in the Twenty20 event.

"During the last few days Sahara Adventure Sports Limited has requested that IPL vary its Player Regulations by allowing it to increase its Auction Purse from USD 1.6m to USD 3.4m in light of Yuvraj Singh`s unfortunate illness", BCCI Secretary Sanjay Jagdale said.

The Board said Sahara could have picked a player during the transfer window after the auction instead of asking for bending of rules. Taken aback by the sudden pullout, the BCCI, which struggled to find long-term team sponsors in the past, is keen to hold on to the company.

Rajiv Shukla, vice-president of the BCCI and chairman of the IPL, also extended an olive branch to Sahara India and said that they would hold talks with the company over an agreement on issues of contention.

"We are open to discussions, open for dialogue because they have been our partner for 11 years. We don't want anything to be decided in haste," BCCI vice-president and IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla said.

Sahara's pullout means the fate of Pune Warriors players also remains uncertain and in case they don't get a new franchise, they may not be able to play at all.

But Shukla seemed optimistic about resolving the matter and said Pune Warriors is still associated with IPL.

"So far they (Sahara Pune Warriors) are still an IPL franchise unless we get anything in writing from them. We are extremely positive," the IPL chief maintained.