Cricket: BCCI--Sahara Truce!

Article first published as Indian Cricket: The IPL Stakes on Technorati.

 The Sahara Group, main sponsor of Indian Cricket for 11 years, suddenly decided to withdraw sponsorship and withdraw also from the Indian Premiere League (IPL) just before the Players’ Auction extravaganza on February 4, 2012 for IPL season five. Long standing disagreement with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the BCCI’s arrogant behavior had been cited as the main reasons for this ‘emotional’ decision.

A hue and cry followed across the country and raged on with the media playing a crucial role. It signified a huge loss of money for Indian cricket and also for the cash-rich BCCI. While Sahara Group said new sponsors could very well be arranged very soon by the Board the BCCI kept silent till a written communication was received. Then the hard negotiations started between the two Indian business giants.

Of course, the imprint of Sahara on the uniforms of the Indian cricket team had been accepted as a symbol of national spirit and even patriotism whenever India played against a rival cricketing nation. Sahara had become synonymous with the game of cricket in India. But what were the actual stakes involved?

Most significantly, Sahara withdrew from the IPL too leaving its franchisee Pune Warriors without an owner. The real bone of contention was the fat price of the ailing Yuvraj Singh. Sahara Group wanted that money to be put into its Auction Purse for reinvestment in buying players. There were several other reasons most of which related to the IPL only.

After days of negotiations the BCCI and Sahara reached an agreement on February 16, 2012 with the BCCI agreeing to all the IPL related demands that it rejected earlier as violation of the rule-book. Maybe the BCCI had been extra cautious after the irregularities done by Lalit Modi, the founder-commissioner of the IPL, who was later sacked in 2010. But how could it put the huge IPL stakes at stake? Those stakes finally prevailed over and the rule-book was discarded once again for business and money.

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