New Delhi, Jan 11: The international stadium in Pune will no longer be known as "Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium" after business conglomerate Sahara Group decided to withdraw the name in the wake of its dispute with the Maharashtra Cricket Association.
Sahara had, on Tuesday, moved the Bombay High Court against MCA for "wrongful termination of agreements" regarding various rights in respect to the stadium and had got an interim relief against the cricket body's move to cover the name of the stadium with black cloth reportedly on the ground of default in payments.
"Sahara has decided to not use the name Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium for the said stadium anymore and shall be proposing a new alternative name, in accordance with the terms and conditions of the naming rights agreement executed between the parties," Sahara sources said.
MCA had invited proposals for acquiring, naming and for certain ancillary rights in respect of the stadium which was being constructed alongside Pune Expressway, including the right to construct and own a club on a contiguous piece of land adjacent to the stadium.
After Sahara expressed its interest to acquire the said rights in respect of the Stadium and Club, a non-binding Term Sheet and Master Agreement were executed between the parties. A naming rights agreement was also executed under which MCA granted to Sahara an exclusive right to name the Stadium which was consequently named Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium.
But soon after the stadium's first IPL match last year, Sahara received a "shocking" letter from MCA, whereby it expressed its desire to terminate the agreements.
According to Sahara sources, the reasons MCA cited in the letter were that due credit was not given to them during the the function ahead of the match.
"It has been repeatedly conveyed by Sahara to MCA that it shall allow the stadium to be named after the name of its chairman Subrata Roy Sahara only if MCA facilitates smooth and effective exercise of rights by Sahara, as agreed to be granted, as it is the name "Subrata Roy Sahara" which is at stake," company sources said.
Sahara is said to have paid almost Rs 73 crores as advance for completion of the Stadium for 2012 IPL season and till date it has paid around Rs 98 crores even though the definitive documents were yet to be executed between parties.
Thereafter, MCA requested for further advance of Rs. 15 crores from Sahara, and while the parties were finalising the terms and conditions on which such advance was to be given, MCA sent a notice to Sahara, alleging default in payment and non-payment of dues by Sahara and terminated the agreements.
MCA covered the name of the stadium with black cloth. Sahara filed a petition under Section 9 of Arbitration and Conciliation Act in Bombay High Court against MCA for "wrongful termination of the agreements".
According to Sahara sources: "On 1st April, 2012, MCA organised a grand inauguration ceremony for the Stadium which was attended by dignitaries including the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra and Agricultural Minister, Sharad Pawar.
"Subrata Roy, on this occasion had mentioned that although he wanted to name the stadium in the name of Sahara group and not his individual name, unfortunately the same was not allowed under the BCCI/ICC rules which restrain the use of corporate names for naming stadiums."
The source further added: "Thereafter, on 8th April, 2012, Sahara organised a cultural show preceding its opening match which saw performances by many Bollywood stars and speeches by the iconic superstar, Amitabh Bachchan, Subrata Roy and Mandira Bedi.
"However, soon after the first match, Sahara received a shocking letter dated 11th April, 2012 from MCA, whereby MCA expressed its desire to terminate the agreements. The reasons cited out in the said letter were that, in the opinion of MCA, due credit was not given to MCA during the said speeches."