Mumbai, May 21: Already reeling under the spot-fixing scandal, Indian Premier League received another jolt on Tuesday evening as Sahara-owned Pune Warriors pulled out of the cash-rich Twenty20 league.
With Pune Warriors' owners failing to pay the full franchise fee for the year 2013, BCCI had decided to encash the bank guarantee.
Sahara also decided to end Team India sponsorship at the end of this year. However, it added that there was "very strong urge" to withdraw sponsorship "from today only."
"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. 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," Sahara said in a statement.
This is the second time in as many years that Sahara has withdrawn its team from the league. Last year, just before the players' auction, they had exited but later rejoined.
Sahara had bought the team in 2010 for Rs 1,702 crore becoming the most expensive franchise in the league.
In the ongoing IPL, Pune finished 8th among 9 teams.
"Yes, the BCCI has initiated procedure to encash the bank guarantee that has been deposited in order to procure Pune Warriors' franchise fee for the current year," a senior BCCI official told PTI on Tuesday.
Sahara bought Pune franchise for a record Rs 1702 crore for 10 years. But they currently have a dispute regarding the reduction of the franchise fee as initially there were 94 matches which was later reduced to 74 matches. The issue hasn't been resolved yet.
"In January this year, Sahara paid around 20 percent of the year franchisee fee which is approximately Rs 170 crore. The BCCI was told that they will pay the remaining amount by May 19 but they failed. The IPL governing council then decided to encash the bank guarantee."