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BCCI-Sahara divorce: Is there a lesson for the Indian cricket board?

Subrata Roy, the chairman of the Sahara Group had blamed the BCCI for dispute © AFP
Subrata Roy, the chairman of the Sahara Group, had blamed the BCCI for dispute © AFP

 

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has found new sponsors for Team India and that effectively ends its relationship with Sahara India Parivar. Nishad Pai Vaidya looks at the bitter divorce and its possible lessons. 

 

The word “Sahara” on the Indian jersey was a familiar sight for the Indian fans for over a decade. However, come 2014, the Indian team would don the jersey with a new sponsor — Star India. This effectively ends the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) relationship with the Sahara India Parivar — the Subrata Roy-led corporate. The 12-year long marriage ended in a bitter divorce after the two bodies disagreed on many terms. In a way, it is the end of an era for one of the most recognisable symbols on the Indian colours.

 

Since early 2012, the two sides have been at war. Sahara on its part felt let down by the BCCI and had withdrawn from the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2012 auction. In fact, they had then threatened to withdraw from all cricket under the BCCI with immediate effect. Tempers cooled down and Sahara resumed its relationship then. But, it was like a broken cup. You may try to mend it; but the cracks would still be visible. And then in May 2013, Sahara finally withdrew their franchise Pune Warriors India, blaming the BCCI’s “attitude” as the Indian board refused to lower the franchise fee and then went on to encash their bank guarantee. The BCCI on its part stated that Sahara had been notified before enchashing the amount and that all franchise had agreed to settle their dues.

 

As an observer, one may not be able to pick the stronger side in this bitter dispute, but it is clear that the BCCI may have to introspect. The board is known to use its financial might and clout to work things its way on the global stage. They are gradually losing some of their allies in global cricket and now losing friends at home as well. If they continue to have such disputes, it may not be long before it becomes an isolated entity.

 

Take the example of India’s tour to South Africa. The boards of two countries have historically shared a warm friendship. India played a crucial role in South Africa’s readmission into international cricket and they made their return with a One-Day International (ODI) at Kolkata in 1991. In 2009, when the IPL couldn’t be staged in India, they turned to the Rainbow Nation to successfully host the event. Four years down the line, it all went awry as their squabble over Haroon Lorgat’s position in the board invariably led to the shortening of the tour — costing the South African board millions. And, this was the end of a 20-year long relationship. Cricket South Africa (CSA) may not have been very antagonised, but things don’t seem positive.

 

Thus, in the space of 12 months, BCCI has marred two long associations. The BCCI should not forget that with great power comes great responsibility.

 

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)

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