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BCCI cashes Pune Warriors guarantee,’disgusted’ Sahara walks out of IPL

Sahara had earlier withdrawn from IPL in 2012,but had returned after talks with the cricket board.

Written by Devendra Pandey | Mumbai |
May 22, 2013 1:59:20 am

Close on the heels of the spot-fixing scandal,the Indian cricket board suffered another setback Tuesday as Sahara Pune Warriors pulled out of the IPL. The decision came after the BCCI decided to encash the bank guarantee following Sahara’s failure to pay the franchise fees.

Sahara,which on Tuesday said it was “disgusted” with BCCI’s “unsportsmanship”,had earlier withdrawn from the IPL in 2012,but had returned after talks with the board.

“We would not keep the IPL franchise even if the entire franchisee fee is waived off,” Sahara said in a statement issued on Tuesday. “It is firm and final decision of Sahara to withdraw from IPL. We now request BCCI to not approach us this time for any discussion as they have done in February 2012.”

The BCCI suggested that the default by Sahara could be the result of the major financial problems the group is currently facing. Board vice-president Niranjan Shah said,“Sahara’s IPL-related problems could be reflective of the reported financial problems. Otherwise,why will they default on their payments? There must be something that is affecting their commitment to IPL and cricket.”

Sahara’s relationship with the board has been bitter since the group bought the Pune franchise three years ago. Sahara was promised 94 matches in 2011 but ended up playing just 64. Sahara and Kochi,whose contract was subsequently terminated,asked BCCI to cut the bid price proportionately,but the board did not respond positively.

Sahara and BCCI later agreed on arbitration,and on March 5,2012,Sahara proposed the name of a retired chief justice of India for the proceedings. BCCI did not respond for four months,and then shot down the proposal.

“BCCI is only concerned about the money. We have requested them so many times but there is no response. We wrote letters to president N Srinivsan too but nothing happened. We are paying more money than new IPL franchise Sunrisers Hyderabad,” a Sahara official complained on Tuesday.

Sahara chief Subrata Roy recently met with IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla,who apparently promised that the board would get back to the company at the earliest,and “till then the bank guarantee will not be touched,not be revoked since the expiry date of bank guarantee was May 2,2013,” the Sahara statement said.

However,the IPL governing council meeting decided that Warriors’ bank guarantee should be encashed. Sahara was bought for Rs 1,702 crore for 10 years,and the franchisee was supposed to pay nearly Rs 170 crore to BCCI every year. In January,Sahara paid 20 per cent of the fee and kept the rest on hold.

“Our last match was on 19th May,and on 20th May a BCCI representative was at the bank to revoke the bank guarantee. We still tried to contact them for an amicable settlement,but couldn’t get anybody on phone in time. But our bank people informed us that even at 8 in the evening the BCCI representative was still present in the bank and threatened the bank that if money was not paid today to BCCI,they would go to the court to blacklist the bank the next day,” the Sahara statement said.

The statement promised that Pune Warriors players would not suffer as a result of the pullout,and that Sahara would continue to sponsor the Indian national side until the end of this year.

IPL chairman Shukla said the board had encashed the bank guarantee according to rules. “As per the rules and procedure of the BCCI,if a franchise fails to pay the fee then we encash the franchise’s bank guarantee. We are extremely sad by their decision to pull out. This should not have happened,” he said.

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