Chennai, Feb 13: The BCCI-Sahara standoff remained unresolved with the Indian Cricket Board's Working Committee rejecting some demands of the long-time sponsor, refusing to make 'exceptions' for the company which will now have to decide its future in the IPL.
After over three hours of deliberation at its Working Committee meeting, the BCCI said it has communicated its decisions with regards to Sahara's demands to the company and was hoping for a 'favourable response'.
The BCCI also made it clear that while it could show some flexibility but it should not be expected to make exceptions for the corporate giant, which owns the costliest IPL team (Pune Warriors bought at Rs 1700 crore).
"Issues that had to be decided were placed before the committee and we have conveyed the response from the working committee to Sahara and we hope the response would be favourable," BCCI President N Srinivasan told reporters after the meeting.
The BCCI's stand, which is being interpreted as tough, will mean that the week-long stalemate will persist for some more time till Sahara decides its future course of action.
Sahara, sponsor of the Indian team for over 11 years, decided to part ways with the BCCI on February 4, complaining that the Board did not give due consideration to its genuine grievances with regards to players and number of matches in the IPL. The decision to severe all ties with BCCI was taken just hours before the IPL auction got underway in Bangalore.
Srinivasan refused to go into the specifics of Sahara's demands but made it clear that exceptions won't be made.
"It is a matter which should be discussed between Sahara and BCCI behind closed doors. These are not issues which can be discussed in public," he said.
"One of it was with regards to the number of matches played last year, issues surrounding the quantum of the bank guarantee that Sahara gave and of course and what they have mentioned in public about the composition of their team in the context of non-availability of some players," Srinivasan said.
"The BCCI has responded positively within the framework of its rules and the BCCI has also said that it is not possible to create an exception because observance of the regulations strictly is important to the integrity of the league," he explained.
It is learnt that a major bone of contention was Sahara's fresh demand that they should be allowed to field six foreign players during the IPL, something that was outrightly rejected by the BCCI.
Srinivasan skirted queries on the future of Sahara as Team India sponsor.
"The position is what it was. We have responded to what Sahara has raised. We will wait to see what the reaction is," he said.
On Sahara's marquee player Yuvraj Singh, who will not play this IPL due to his ongoing treatment for a malignant lung tumour, Srinivasan said, "I am told that as per the rules Sahara can have replacement for Yuvraj so that is not an issue."
Srinivasan said the BCCI will also have no issues if Sahara decides to offload some of its stake in Pune Warriors to a strategic partner.
"The BCCI will not have objection to Sahara having a strategic partnership," Srinivasan said.
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 T20 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 T20 event.
The BCCI stands to lose close to Rs 2000 crore if no solution is found. However, the Board can find another sponsor to neutralise the losses.
Srinivasan said finding sponsors is not a problem for the cash-rich Board.
"Sponsors are not going away. In any contractual arrangement you will have to provide the scope for change. BCCI has not lost money. For the properties we have, we have adequate sponsors. We have problems with a sponsor, we have shown we will walk that extra mile to address them," he said.
Sahara's other demand was a reduction in the bank guarantee considering the fact that the number of IPL matches had been reduced from 94 to 74.