Mumbai, Feb 5: Sahara Group chief Subroto Roy on Saturday defended the decision to snap ties with the BCCI but wants to ensure that the players of his IPL team do not suffer and get to play in the fifth edition of the Twenty20 league.
Roy said he is willing to negotiate with the BCCI to find a way out for his players' participation.
"To that extent I am flexible. I don't want my players to suffer and miss playing in IPL. I do not want to deprive my players. I am willing to sit across the table with BCCI officials and sort out the issue. I don't want to get into any legal battles," Roy said at a press conference.
Early in the day, Sahara Group announced that it was ending its sponsorship of the Indian team and pulling out of IPL.
He said he would tell the Cricket Board to look out for corporates to buy his team.
"It's upto the IPL Governing Council. Money is no issue. I will pay the players the full amount," he said.
"The decision we took to end ties was not a bad one at all. We had enough of it. Any relationship does not break on one single issue only. We had a long relationship. It has to do with many issues," he said.
"There were so many genuine things we had but they (BCCI) did not give heed to such a small thing like opening the bid. They did not open the bid on a technicality (when Sahara had submitted its bid for the first time in 2008). Rules were broken for other teams but we were not given natural justice," he said.
Roy also denied that the current poor run of the Indian team had anything to do with Sahara's decision to end its ties with BCCI.
"In our 11-year-long relationship the Indian team has gone through such phases. In fact it's in the Tests that the team is not performing well," said Roy, adding that he had spoken to BCCI President N Srinivasan on Friday before taking the decision on Saturday morning.
"I spoke to the BCCI president last night and told him that unless they heed to our request to increase the purse during today's players auction in Bangalore to make up for the non-availability of sick Yuvraj Singh, we will have to part ways. I waited till today morning before announcing the decision. It's not Yuvraj alone, but a sequence of events," Roy said.
Roy was also critical of the IPL's decision last year, after the sale of two more franchise outfits - Pune Warriors and the now defunct Kochi Tuskers Kerala, not to go for an open auction.
"It should have been done last year. Two top players in each team (the original eight outfits) had been retained and thus 16 top players were unavailable at the auction. It was not a level playing field. One or two weak teams will affect the quality of the tournament.
"We wanted one extra foreign player (to level the field), but it was not allowed. When one of the franchises (Mumbai Indians) faced a problem with injuries they were allowed to field on extra foreign player (in last year's Champions T20 League). I applauded that ruling. It should have been that way all along," he explained.
Roy said Sahara had approached the BCCI to settle the issues through arbitration and it had even proposed an arbitrator but the Cricket Board was not interested.
He said considering the number of matches reduced from the originally-proposed 94, Pune Warriors paid 25 per cent more money to the Cricket Board for owning the franchisee.
"It was 94 matches calculation, the gate money to collection of advertisement money would have been 25 per cent more. We have paid 25 per cent more. Differential amount is 25 per cent of the total amount," he said.
Roy said that thus far no one had shown an interest to buy Pune Warriors. "I have not been approached by anyone," he said.
But he was confident there would be buyers as the third and fourth highest bidders when the two new teams were sold ahead of the previous season had bid for USD 319 and 321 million.
The Sahara chief said he would not want to blame anybody but he was snapping ties with the BCCI and pulling out Pune Warriors from the IPL as it involved emotional issues.
"I don't want to target individuals. Cricket is a passion and religion for me. I love it. We are not severing our ties with the game. We have decided to put all this money in sports development in villages and cricket will have a special place in it," he added.
He also took a pot shot at the sports federations saying they did not run their disciplines in the right manner.
Incidentally, Sahara also sponsors the national hockey outfit.