The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Wednesday claimed it had no ‘direct’ communication from Sahara on the latter’s decision to pull out from the Indian Premier League next season onwards but triggered a war of words with the latter responding strongly.

In a press release, the Board Secretary Sanjay Jagdale said, “That Sahara has purported to terminate its franchise agreement and to pull out of IPL from 2014 onwards. The BCCI has had no direct communication from its franchisee, Sahara Adventure Sports Limited, in this regard.”

The Board, however, confirmed that, “In order to satisfy the balance of the 2013 franchise fee of Rs. 120 crore, which was overdue and owing to BCCI since April 3, it has encashed part of the bank guarantee put in place by Sahara.”

The IPL Governing Council, asserted Jagdale, “met with representatives of the franchisee on February 21 and received assurances that the franchisee would settle all obligations as they fell due. Once the April 3 due date had passed, the Governing Council had sent two letters to Sahara requesting settlement of the overdue amount. No payment was made and no response was received to the second letter and so, in order to protect its interests, the BCCI was forced to encash the guarantee.”

Sahara contended the Board’s claims. “When we paid the first instalment of franchisee fee in 2013 then too we had urged BCCI to resolve the issue of Franchisee fee before the second and final instalment of 2013 fell due. Despite our repeated urges and request and also BCCI’s joint statement along with us in February 2012 there has been no inclination from BCCI to resolve the issue.

“As for the February 21 meeting there was no discussion on the amount of franchisee fees that is to be paid. It is totally incorrect.”

Jagdale added, “While it is true that the arbitration has not progressed, the BCCI cannot be held responsible since every one of the eminent retired judges suggested by the BCCI was not found acceptable by the franchisee.”

The Board said, “In order to break this impasse, a letter was sent to Sahara, proposing that as the claimant to the arbitration, it should approach the court to appoint an arbitrator so that the process could move forward. Again, no response was received to this suggestion.”

On a firm note, Jagdale concluded, “The BCCI has at all times acted in accordance with its franchise agreement with Sahara and is not able to enter into a private negotiation on the quantum of the franchise fee which was offered by Sahara Adventure Sports Limited in its response to the Invitation to Tender floated by the BCCI in March 2010.”

Sahara responded by dismissing the Board’s contention, stating that it was misled by the IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla. “Shukla had assured our Chairman (Subroto Roy) he will resolve this issue and till then the bank guarantee will not be touched. The bank guarantee lapsed on May 2 and nobody from BCCI went for encashment of the bank guarantee which gave us more reasons to believe in the assurance made by Shukla.

“However, after our last match on May 19, the next day BCCI representative went for encashment of Bank guarantee. It was a clear case of betrayal of trust in spite of assurances by the IPL Chairman.”

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