Sahara’s withdrawal fresh crisis for beleaguered cricket, BCCIFebruary 4th, 2012 - 10:51 pm ICT by IANS
Kolkata, Feb 4 (IANS) Facing tough times following the Indian team’s dismal performance, poor crowd response in home internationals, and challenge from Formula 1 racing, the Indian cricket board Saturday suffered a fresh setback with Sahara India’s decision to end its sponsorship of the Indian team, despite optimism from some quarters that the matter could be resolved through negotiations.
Just hours before the IPL 2012 auction in Bangalore, Sahara dropped the bombshell, terminating its 11-year-old multi-million dollar sponsorship of Team India and also walked out of the Pune franchise of the cash-rich league, contending that they have been denied natural justice yet again.
Officially Sahara said the BCCI’s refusal to accede to its request that the Pune Warriors be allowed to add price of the ailing Yuvraj Singh in its auction purse during Saturday’s auction was the immediate cause.
Company chairman Subrata Roy also referred to its bid for one of the first eight IPL franchises in 2008 being disqualified “owing to a small technicality”, the BCCI’s refusal to settle the issues through arbitration and the board going back on its promise of 94 matches in the 2011 edition of the league which was limited to 74 matches.
However, cricketing circles felt the company’s decision could have been prompted by the dwindling crowds in domestic grounds during recent international matches.
During India’s series against England and the West Indies, the attendance dropped alarmingly, shaking cricket buffs and even the BCCI.
Even Kolkata’s Eden Gardens, famous the world over for its large crowd, saw such small turnouts that former England captain Tony Greig compared it to a “morgue” during the India-West Indies Test match in November.
The cricketing circles were apprehensive that the whitewash in Australia could further alienate the spectators.
“I think they were looking for a chance to get out of it, with cricket matches being played on near-empty grounds in India. Cricket is going through a crisis. The only hope now is that those who had got associated with the game because of the money will leave, and the genuine people will be drawn to the game,” said a former administrator.
However, another high level source said it could well be that the company had calculated that it was putting too much money in a sport which was now likely to yield diminishing returns.
“Whatever they might say, it is still not clear what was the last straw. And if the Yuvraj factor was the real reason, then there could still be a possibility that the matters can be sorted out through discussions.
“Who knows whether things will not dramatically change tomorrow after negotiations away from the public eye. This may be a pressure tactics to force the board to accept the company’s demands,” the source said.
“The coming days could be interesting,” he added.
Sahara’s decision to pull out has also come at a time when BCCI is without any official broadcaster, after having scrapped the deal with production house Nimbus, over alleged non-payment of dues, in December last year.
Nimbus had been reportedly failing on payments for several months. Indicating troubled times for the game in India, the company’s revenues were reportedly dropping much below what it projected while inking the deal.
The Sahara withdrawal has also coincided with the advent in India of Formula 1 racing, which has attracted corporates like magnet, providing a fresh, and according to many, better option to reach out to the target consumers.
- BCCI gives in, Sahara India back as Team India sponsor (Lead) - Feb 16, 2012
- Ready to walk extra mile, but rules can't be bent: BCCI - Feb 13, 2012
- Cannot make exceptions for Sahara in IPL: BCCI president (Lead) - Feb 13, 2012
- Sahara's pull out unfortunate: BCCI - Feb 04, 2012
- Sahara hits back after BCCI rejcts its demands (Roundup) - Feb 13, 2012
- Double blow for BCCI, Sahara walks out of sponsorship deal, Pune Warriors (Roundup) - Feb 04, 2012
- Sahara back as cricket Team India sponsor - Feb 16, 2012
- Decision Monday on Sahara-BCCI dispute - Feb 12, 2012
- BCCI ropes in ex-president Manohar to solve Sahara crisis - Feb 14, 2012
- Sahara walks out of BCCI sponsorship and IPL (Second Lead) - Feb 04, 2012
- Sahara has to cite relevant agreement clause to pull out: IPL - Feb 04, 2012
- List of Sahara's grievances against BCCI - Feb 13, 2012
- Sahara has not told BCCI about pullout officially: Shukla - Feb 04, 2012
- Modi slams BCCI president for Sahara's walkout - Feb 04, 2012
- Subroto Roy slams BCCI's attitude as one-sided, arbitrary - Feb 04, 2012
Tags: captain tony, company chairman, cricket matches, crowd response, dismal performance, eden gardens, england captain, formula 1 racing, home internationals, india west indies test match, indian cricket board, kolkata, large crowd, natural justice, sahara india, subrata roy, technicality, turnouts, whitewash, yuvraj singh