No arbitrator so far to resolve Sahara’s IPL issues

Sahara Group Chairman Subrata Roy More than a year after the Indian cricket Board agreed to resolve Sahara’s IPL issues, including reduction the of Pune franchise fee by up to 25 per cent, through arbitration, no headway has been made.

Both parties have suggested several names, including judges of Supreme Court, but all names have been rejected either by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) or Sahara. Despite being disadvantaged, Sahara has continued to pay the franchise fee on time, according to top sources.

In May 2010, Sahara Adventure Sports Limited (SASL) bought the Pune franchise for Rs 1,702 crore ($ 333.33 million) and Rendezvous Sports World, a consortium, the Kochi franchise for Rs 1,533.33 crore ($ 333.33 million).

The BCCI has since scrapped Kochi franchise for breach of contract while Sahara is fighting for justice.

Sahara has also been the sponsor of the national team for 12 years, and has been making timely payments to the BCCI. According to a source, SASL managing director Sushanto Roy himself has sent letters to the BCCI, reminding it to expedite appointing the arbitrator to resolve the long-standing issue.

“However, BCCI has reportedly been mum on the issue, and takes inordinately long to reply whenever it chooses to break its silence,” a source told MAIL TODAY. “Sahara is seeking a reduction in franchise fee between 22 per cent and 25 per cent. It has been writing letters to the BCCI on this issue since December 2010.

But either the BCCI has completely ignored those letters or taken months to reply to some of them.

“Then, in February last year, when Sahara announced its pull out as sponsor of the Indian team and threatened to also pull out of the IPL, BCCI officials agreed to its several demands. But many of those promises have remained just that,” he said.

It has been learnt that both sides have since proposed several well- known names for arbitration, but all of them have been rejected by the other party.

“Also, Sahara claims it has further been disadvantaged by the huge difference in the base prices for the two new teams added in 2010, when compared to the base price of the Hyderabad franchise, re-auctioned last year,” the source pointed out.

The BCCI had in 2010 set the reserve price of Rs 103.50 crore ($ 225 million) per year when Sahara and Rendezvous Sports World won the bids and the price for the Hyderabad franchise was Rs 60 crore per year. Sun TV won the bid by quoting just Rs 85.05 crore per year.

BCCI has also not replied to Sahara’s other request: granting of the right to first refusal clause in the contract of the national team sponsor.