Pune Warriors India was ousted from the IPL by the BCCI on Saturday for refusal to pay Rs. 170.2 Crore to play in the next season. Their history and performance in the IPL has always ranged from mundane to controversial; Subrata Roy, the Chairman has been restrained from leaving the country.

So, something that was always on the cards has happened finally as the BCCI finally terminated the Sahara-owned IPL team Pune Warriors India from the tournament since the franchise failed to pay the bank guarantee. The Pune franchisee had pulled out of the tournament back in 2012 as well but they eventually reversed their decision and participated in IPL V. At that time, the Sahara management reckoned that they should be allowed to spend beyond their limit on another player since Yuvraj Singh was unavailable due to his illness. Finally they brought in Michael Clarke and all was well.

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The Issue:

However, this year in 2013, they quite rightly pointed out that they the BCCI should renegotiate the contract agreement since the number of teams had been reduced from 10 to 9, following the termination of the Kochi franchise and hence the number matches would also be less compared to what it was supposed to be when the contract was actually inked. As a result of this situation, the Sahara group did not pay their yearly franchisee fee this year, which amounts to Rs. 170.2 Crore, but that was not a problem for the BCCI since they cashed in on the bank guarantee.

Subrata Roy Sahara Pune Warriors India Terminated from the IPL

Subrata Roy criticised the BCCI over it’s move to oust Pune Warriors’ India from the IPL. He has now been restrained from leaving the country without prior approval.

Now, since the bank guarantee has been en-cashed, the franchisee were supposed to make a further payment of Rs. 170.2 Crore in order to replenish the bank guarantee but Sahara owner Mr. Subroto Roy had already stated back in May that he would have nothing to do with the IPL as long as N. Srinivasan remained at the helm.

The Tussle:

Sanjay Patel, who is a secretary in the BCCI read the statement, “Given Sahara’s continued position that it would not deliver the bank guarantee, the working committee unanimously determined to terminate the Sahara franchise agreement while taking whatever action was necessary to protect the BCCI position.”

The Supreme Court of India had judged that the BCCI will be well within its rights to terminate the franchise if they failed to pay the bank guarantee and according to the BCCI, they had reminded the Sahara group about the pending payments ‘5 times’. However, this is what Sahara had to say in their statement after the BCCI had dropped the bombshell: – “This is not the only time that BCCI has treated Pune Warriors India with disdain and in an unfair manner … [This comes] despite assurances given in a meeting between Mr. Subroto Roy Sahara and Mr N Srinivasan, president, BCCI, in February 2012, subsequent to which a joint media statement was issued whereby both parties agreed to start the arbitration proceedings to address Sahara’s claim for a reduction in franchise fee for 74 matches. However, in contravention of the understanding reached between the parties, no steps were taken by BCCI to address our long standing demand of the reduction of the franchise fee. In fact, far from starting the arbitration, BCCI has thwarted the process.”

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This is the second time that a team has been terminated from the IPL and considering the current identity crisis that the tournament is suffering from, it is indeed unfortunate that the number of teams have gone down to 8, as it was when the whole thing started 5 years back. Is the IPL regressing as a brand? Will Pepsi stay as the title sponsors next year?

The tournament is now fighting a battle for its existence and although a tournament of this size cannot go bust in a matter of a few months, the chinks in the IPL fortress are quite visible.

By Soham Samaddar

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