Sahara snapping all ties with Indian cricket hogs limelight on day of IPL auction

All newspapers are splashed with the news of Sahara India Parivar snapping all ties with Indian cricket. The announcement came just a couple of hours before the IPL auctions were scheduled. Later in the day, Sahara boss Subrata Roy said at a news conference that the parting was emotionally wrenching but unavoidable as the BCCI had denied it "natural justice".

According to The Times Of India, this means the Indian cricket team is now without a sponsor and the IPL Pune team without a franchisee. “Sahara has been the sponsor for 11 long years. A back of the envelope calculation indicates its break-up with cricket would spell roughly a hit of Rs 2,200 crore to the BCCI (Rs 1,700 crore for the Pune franchise of which Sahara has paid just 10% and Rs 534 crore for team sponsorship). The financial setback to cricket, therefore, isn't insignificant,” says the report.

The newspapers reports say that differences between Sahara and the current leadership of BCCI were brewing for a while. Saturday's decision appears to have been triggered by the BCCI's refusal to grant any concession to Sahara on the size of Pune Warriors' purse for the IPL auction. Sahara pleaded that in light of its icon player Yuvraj Singh's sudden illness, which could be a prolonged one, it should either be allowed to play five foreign players instead of four or it should be freed of the amount it paid for retaining Sourav Ganguly. BCCI agreed to neither.

Reacting to the recent development, former IPL chairman Lalit Modi blamed BCCI president N Srinivasan’s arrogant style of functioning for Sahara Group's decision to snap all the ties with the cricket board. According to a report in TOI Modi said it was a black day for Indian cricket and criticised the behaviour of the BCCI big wigs. “Sahara termination — shows how unhappy the major sponsor and franchise owner is with the way BCCI deals with its partners. This is really a sad day. Sahara has been sports biggest supporter and pillar,” Modi wrote on his twitter page. “It’s a black day for Indian cricket. All due to one egomaniac. Wonder how we allow that to continue. It will ruin cricket completely,” read another tweet.

Meanwhile, former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar feels BCCI could have postponed the Players’ auction for IPL-5 after they came to know about Sahara India’s decision to snap its sponsorship contract. According to newspaper reports, “I think there must have been a clause to terminate a contract and Sahara would have taken legal advice before pulling out. But I feel once it was known that Sahara are pulling out, may be the auction could have been postponed till a resolution. If Pune was not a part of IPL V, then their players would have been in the auction,” Gavaskar said.

Hindustan Times writes that Sahara snapping ties with India cricket and IPL has left bigger set of players in the league concerned for their future and financial prospects. “It appears the Pune Warrior India players had no inkling that their bigtime backers Sahara were about to pull the plug as they took part in a camp in Lucknow under bowling coach Allan Donald with mental conditioning expert Paddy Upton also present,” says the report.

However, a Sahara official said players' interest would be taken care of but the pullout left a shocked Aussie batsman Mitch Marsh tweeting, wondering what happened to his team. Sahara want the BCCI to find a new sponsor for PWI as quickly as possible, with the cricket board yet to sort out the mess that terminating the Kochi team has left.

Terming the volatility of the Indian Premier League (IPL) to be worse than the stock market uncertainty, The Times Of India quotes Muttiah Muralitharan saying that if the players' money is not guaranteed, foreign players would be scared to participate in the cash-rich tournament.

"It's somewhat a relief for me but what about other players from Kochi who are left out? I am yet to get 35% of my contract money from Kochi. Will the BCCI compensate for it? If so, when?" Muralitharan told TOI just after Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) bagged him for a measly $2,20,000 on Saturday.

Murali, who had a base price of $200,000, went for much less than his last contract money -- $1.1 million. "I am told the BCCI will bear the difference money to ensure the Kochi players' get their due. I was bought for a price ($1.1 million) for three years. That was my income for the same period. If we don't get the money, in future, players will be scared to come and play in India (IPL)," Murali added.