The scandal-hit Indian Premier League today suffered another blow with the Sahara Group-owned Pune Warriors Indians withdrawing from the event due to the BCCI's lackadaisical arbitration proceedings to lower the franchise fee and it's decision to encash the team's bank guarantee.
Sahara, which bought the franchise for Rs 1700 crore in 2010, said it was "disgusted" by the BCCI's attitude towards it and will not rejoin the league even if the entire franchise fee was waved off.
"...we would not keep the IPL franchisee even if the entire franchisee fee is waved off. It is firm and final decision of Sahara to withdraw from IPL," the Sahara Group said in a detailed statement.
"In 2010, Sahara had bid 1700 crore for IPL franchise on the basis of revenue calculation on 94 matches. It was tricky on part of BCCI to put the number in media as 94 matches for getting bigger amount. But we got 64 matches only," it added.
Sahara claimed that the BCCI turned a deaf ear to its pleadings for arbitration and reducing the franchise fee.
"We and Kochi Team immediately protested and requested BCCI to reduce the bid price proportionately for viable IPL proposition. Nothing was heard. We waited with confidence that such a sports body should have sportsmanship spirit," it said.
"We continuously requested BCCI for Arbitration from June 2011. But BCCI is only concerned about money and not about the genuine interests of the franchisee. Thus, (when) we could not penetrate BCCI's deaf ears, we announced our withdrawal in February 2012," it added.
Sahara Group said it was tempted to withdraw from the Indian cricket team's sponsorship also but refrained from doing so in the interest of the players.
"There is a very strong urge in us to withdraw from the Indian Cricket Team Sponsorship from today only. But, interest of the players will suffer if we do so.
"We share an excellent relationship with the players and will not want such dedicated and good human beings who serve the country so committed to get harmed financially due to unsporting attitude of BCCI," the Group said.
"So we have given time to BCCI to get the new sponsorship in place from January 2014, as we will continue the national team's sponsorship only up to December 2013 that's the expiry date of the present agreement."
Recollecting the 2012 withdrawals and the subsequent return, the Group said the BCCI did not keep its word with regards to arbitration.
"The BCCI approached us for a solution and requested us to not withdraw. After a series of discussions with the topmost BCCI officials including the BCCI President at Mumbai, a Joint Statement was issued by Sahara and BCCI in Feb 2012.
The Joint Statement, amongst many other things, specifically mentioned the agreement to start Arbitration proceedings through immediate appointment of an Arbitrator," it said.
"...Sahara suggested the name of a Retired Hon'ble Chief Justice of India on the 5th March 2012 to be appointed as the Arbitrator. There was no response from BCCI for four months and after repeated prodding, finally on the 9th of July Sahara's advocates received a letter from BCCI rejecting the name proposed by Sahara without mentioning any reason and also without suggesting any alternatives," it added.
The company said the Board rejected all other names suggested by it for arbitration.
"...despite our repeated efforts to have the Arbitration initiated, we sent other suggestion of names which too were turned down and instead meaningless communication was created to stall finalisation," it said.
"In the meanwhile, Sahara kept on paying the full Franchise Fee of Rs 170.20 crore annually, without prejudice to its rights and contentions, in the hope that this will be resolved soon. But unfortunately, it was not done," it added.
Sahara said its Chairman Subroto Roy met BCCI President on numerous occasions but the matter remained unresolved.
"Fed up with this stalemate our Hon'ble Chairman Saharasri ji had written to the BCCI president that the arbitration for downward revision of the fees has not progressed in 3 years time, hence, has requested for a proper meeting to personally discuss the way forward and explicitly said that if a downward revision is not possible then we would want to surrender the franchisee. This fell on deaf ear," the company claimed.