Be-Sahara BCCI | What next for cricket? Laxminarayan, Bijoor comment. Also: the Sahara communique in full

06 Feb,2012

By A Correspondent


The news that Sahara was ending its association with Indian cricket was greeted with shock and disbelief by cricket fans and media professionals alike. Apart from the monetary implications, many found it hard to imagine the Indian team without the Sahara branding on their jerseys. But some also thought native resilience will tide the team over the crisis.


Harish Bijoor, brand expert and CEO of Harish Bijoor Consults, said, “Sahara and Indian cricket have been associated for 11 years and it has been a long-standing association of deep commitment. It has helped Sahara gain ubiquity through a mass game for its many offerings.


“I don’t think Sahara’s backing out would dent its image. Sahara will be missed on the Indian cricket team’s tee shirt, but take it from me, there will be another name out there, faster than we think. How about the Tata blue on the Indian blue?


“Some keys to remember when going for an association for any new brand – and even for Indian cricket when considering the tie-up – would be that Indian cricket is a long term investment. Cricket is a forever game in India. Yes, we are currently going through what I would call the bathos-period. But we will come out of it. Brands that invest today will gain in the medium and long term.”


Karthik Lakshminarayan, COO, Crest, Madison Media, said, “It was a symbiotic association and both parties gained infinitely well and have grown in size and stature over the last decade plus. Sahara is a well established name and while it will definitely be affected to a certain extent, the extent of damage would be minimal for Sahara.


“One hopes that there are takers for the same given the way cricket is worshipped in our country. Am sure people will still recall WILLS association with the cricket team which is over two decades and hence this kind of association and mileage can only be offered by a platform of this size and magnitude. Whichever brand takes up the same will definitely be remembered for a while. The only thing one needs to watch out for would be ensuring that there is newness and innovation with the association as the next few years will mark a sea change in the way media is consumed by the audience.”


For Brand Sahara, life without cricket seems to be something it is well prepared for. A company release said that Sahara is putting the cricket money into welfare work – all Rs 1,000 crore worth.


A statement from Sushanto Roy, Managing Director, Sahara Adventure Sports Limited, said:

“We are declaring to put immediately Rs 500 crore in Sahara Welfare Foundation, which will be run with the association of eminent persons of our country. For the programme as mentioned below, Sahara declares to put around Rs 500 crore more in the next 1-2 years as per the need of all the programmes.


We are working on various programmes including financial implications etc since we have taken this decision after continuous persuasion with the BCCI failed, meaning on the 2nd of February, 2012. But we waited upto the auction day, ie 4th of February, that our request to BCCI would be accepted. But again, there was no natural justice.”


Our programmes in brief are as follows:

Rural/semi urban young sports person promotional centers


  • We would develop 20 Rural/Semi Urban Sports Promotional Centers including Rural/Semi Urban Cricket promotional Centers.
  • Each shall have 7 to 10 Acres of land which will be developed into sports person promotional centers with hostels having 50-100 rooms
  • Everyone shall get minimum 5 years.
  • Scientific selection youngsters shall be done throughout the country in remotest villages also to unearth genuine talents.
  • Every year, thousands of youngsters will be selected throughout the country from will be put in these sports centres with all cost of Sahara Welfare Foundation including their education also.
  • Local sports teachers shall be appointed and high class Domestic/International teachers shall also be appointed who shall visit these centers regularly in turns throughout the year for special training to local teachers and students.
  • Centres will have diversified sports disciplines viz. cricket, hockey, soccer, formula1, tennis, golf, wrestling, boxing etc.
  • One international standard sports academy shall immediately be developed at one point in India.
  • All best selected students shall ultimately come to this International Class Sports Academy.
  • Any of the students who secure a position at the National Level shall be appointed in company.
  • We shall definitely have minimum one center in every state barring very few highly disturbed states.
  • After a certain level of achievement on State/National/International level these people will be rewarded suitably.
  • They will stand to receive permanent jobs, houses, marriages (particularly girls), old age facilities etc. etc. Deserving student shall be given regular opportunities to go abroad for further improvements/ developments.
  • All regular students shall be given high coverage of insurance which may go into crores.


Support fund

There are many old (retired) and present players who, at times, face up to miserable days regarding medical bills, girls marriage, shelter etc. Every year minimum 10 crore will be distributed –

– 3 crore for cricketers

– 7 crore for all other disciplines


Increase of sponsorship amount


  • We shall discuss with other federations where we are sponsoring different disciplines of sports and as per the genuine need for better promotion, we shall enhance the sponsorship amount.


Medical vans

On all India basis 300 fully equipped medical vans shall be introduced which shall only go to remote villages (at the moment we are running around 50 such vehicles) where there is no medical facilities exist. Our van shall have good doctors, check-up facilities and free medicines and also supporting cases for going to hospitals.


So, we shall introduce around 300 medical vans in the country to start with which shall increase gradually.


Safe drinking water

We shall introduce for Rural and Semi Urban areas 100 tankers who shall distribute to even remote areas safe drinking water free/or maximum 50 paise to 1/- per liters (to poors it will be free). Some money could be charged so that gradually the areas covered would increase, meaning if charged, it shall be done to increase area of safe drinking water only.


Important note:

Safe drinking water is one of the most essential needs of our country. As an example for bad quality of drinking water every summer in Uttar Pradesh, people and government send around Rs. 6000 crores towards few kind of tablets and liquid drips since millions are very seriously critically effected with blood dysentery and all sorts of worst gastric problems.

With safe drinking water this problem can be reduced to maximum extent.



10,000 T.V Screens in villages and semi-urban areas with Dish Antenna etc.

For free education/support of various types of adult literacy, child care, child education, hygiene, cultivation/agriculture, Hindi/English education, Education of high morality, education of good life, information of mandis on regular basis through our centres. Large studio will be made for this purpose.


Important Note

In India, today may be around 3 per cent population knows English well. The entire administration (IAS/IPS etc.) is in English medium; entire judiciary, medical science, engineering, corporate world are all in English medium. Even ministers mainly in Delhi should be English speaking. Meaning entire administration of our country is always governed by 3 per cent population only. It is unfortunate, sad & very bad for the country. Sad, we don’t have Hindi as one language of the country like all developed countries have. Well, English will never go. This is the time English should reach gradually go to all villages.”


Sahara’s statement on the BCCI issue

“Our association with Team India was primarily emotional and all along, the journey was indeed, a privileged one for the entire Sahara India Pariwar. In 2001, cricket was not as rich but had become a religion in our country. We had requested the then BCCI President, Shri Jagmohan Dalmia to go for an open auction, for the Indian team’s sponsorship inviting only interested Indian Corporates, since it was not right that it should go to some MNC. But for obvious, unavoidable reasons, BCCI did not accept that.


“After 03 months, one fine morning, our Hon’ble Chairman was told that the sponsorship had gone to an MNC. Immediately, our Chairman called Shri Dalmiaji and expressed his desire to take up the sponsorship. He responded quite positively and requested for a 10 per cent increase in the price, which our Hon’ble Chairman immediately accepted.


“Now after a 11-year journey as sponsors, we can say with surety that cricket has become very rich. Many rich people are there to support cricket with a strong will to do so. So, with absolute peace of mind we can exit from cricket under BCCI and are now exiting with a heavy heart. It was an emotional decision for us to start this sponsorship but our emotions were never appreciated and many genuine situations, were not given due consideration at all.


“Our first entry into IPL was thwarted in 2008 when we were disqualified, owing to a small technicality on the whims and fancies of BCCI. Yet our Bid was not opened.


“Last year, Sahara entered the IPL on the basis of information in the media and everywhere else that 94 matches will be played among 10 teams. The bid price was accordingly calculated, but only 74 matches were played. We are still pursuing continuously with the BCCI to refund the extra bid money proportionately. It has been denied on the basis of strict rules.


“In the interest of the tournament, we repeatedly tried our best to pursue the BCCI for open auction of all players so that we achieve level playing field and all teams are equally balanced from the quality players’ point of view. Again, as per BCCI’s strict rules it was denied and again, we were deprived of natural justice. 12 of the best players were retained by the existing teams then.


“The two new teams then requested for allowing us at least one extra foreign player but that too was denied, quoting rules.


“Once during a World Cup tournament, Sahara’s name was not allowed because there was a clash of our Airline with a South African airline. In two major tournaments, the team had to play without the ‘SAHARA’ logo. It was ICC’s decision so we could realize that it was for no fault of BCCI and we also did not want the players to suffer. As per the rules, we were not supposed to pay sponsorship money for those matches but we still paid the players share of the amount in entirety. Sadly, we never found BCCI believing in genuine give and take.


“Furthermore, Shri Yuvraj Singh, who is truly like one of our family members, is, quite unfortunately, passing through a bad phase health wise, undergoing treatment for critical illness, overseas. Out of enthusiasm, he may like to come out on the ground after a few months. But any well-wisher who truly loves him, would never desire that he be allowed to play for the oncoming months. Our duty is to take care of him, so Sahara has decided to pay him his full fee this year with condition as a Guardian that his priority should be health care and he should not play till he has fully recovered.


“We requested the BCCI on the basis of the fact that we have only one Indian marquee player, that we be allowed to add price of Shri Yuvraj Singh in our auction purse, during the 4th February auction because we had later taken Shri Sourav Ganguly at 0.4 million. Again, we have been denied on the basis of the rule book. Yet again, a case of being denied natural justice.


“We think this peculiar situation of Shri Yuvraj Singh is silent in the rule book because it probably talks only about players who are temporarily injured.


“Incidentally, once during the Champion’s League tournament, one of the Indian IPL teams had a lot of injured players so they were rightly, out of natural justice, allowed to break the rules and take one extra foreign player. We appreciated this natural justice.


“We really feel such one-sided emotional relationship cannot be dragged any further. We are withdrawing from all cricket under BCCI/ However, we don’t want to give any problem to the BCCI and we also feel that the players should not suffer. BCCI will definitely take 2-4 months to get a new sponsor and we will continue paying the sponsorship money till then. All other IPL team players, coaches and other such associates will definitely get their due this year, in case they do not get a chance to play.*


“For this, our humble request once again to the BCCI is that through the right process and with strict rules/regulations, they should pass on our team to some other interested party immediately. We expect at least this much of our humble request will kindly be accepted after 12 years of our productive relationship with the BCCI.”


Also read:

Why this cricket-veri… ? by Mahesh Ranka


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