Business conglomerate Sahara has announced that it will not renew its main sponsorship of the India national cricket team at the end of this year after launching a stinging attack on the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) governing body.
Sahara criticised the conduct of the governing body as it also announced that it would immediately withdraw its Pune Warriors franchise from the Indian Premier League (IPL), the Twenty20 competition that is operated by the BCCI.
“There is a very strong urge in us to withdraw from the Indian cricket team sponsorship from today only,” Sahara said in a statement. “But, interest of the players will suffer if we do so. We share an excellent relationship with the players and will not want such dedicated and good human beings who serve the country so committedly to get harmed financially due to unsporting attitude of BCCI. So we have given time to BCCI to get the new sponsorship in place from January 2014, as we will continue the national team's sponsorship only up to December 2013 – that's the expiry date of the present agreement.”
Sahara has been the main sponsor of Indian cricket for 13 years and signed a renewed agreement with the BCCI through to the end of 2013 in July 2010.
However, the partnership has become increasingly turbulent in recent years, and in February 2012 Sahara made the shock decision to terminate its sponsorship of the national team and withdraw its financial backing of the Warriors, only to reach a peace deal with the board later that month.
Sahara, which bid around $370m (€286.8m) to secure ownership of the Pune franchise in 2010, has fought a long-running battle with the BCCI over player regulations and the match schedule for the IPL. It had also been seeking a reduction in its franchise fee due to a reduction in the number of league games from the figure promised in its original contract with the BCCI.