It's the big sports news. After days of negotiations, the Sahara group and the BCCI have reached common ground enough for their 11-year-old association to continue after all. Today's developments mean that Sahara will continue to sponsor Team India and the Pune Warriors will play in the Indian Premier League Season 5. The compromise lays down the following:
1) The BCCI and Sahara have agreed to start arbitration proceedings to address Sahara's demand for a reduction in franchise fee for 74 matches last season. Sahara paid 1,702 crore for the Pune franchise in 2010, more than three times the cost of any of the original eight teams. It had asked the BCCI to reduce their franchise fee because only 74 matches were played in the 2011 season as opposed to 94 as originally proposed by BCCI.
2). Sahara had requested that it be allowed to pay bank guarantee against the franchisee fee in two installments; the BCCI has said it will consider this.
3) For the Indian Premier League, the BCCI will extend a trading window - which was to close tomorrow, February 17, till Wednesday, February 29 - to give the Pune Warriors India an opportunity to negotiate with the eight other IPL franchises for players to strengthen its squad, which will not have its only marquee player Yuvraj Singh playing this season.
4) The BCCI will re-activate the auction purse of the Pune Warriors so that it can buy a number of players, subject to the rules that govern IPL squad composition. This was a key Sahara demand - it means that the $ 1.8 million spent on Yuvraj Singh is added to its purse for this year of $ 1.6 million - after accounting for the 400,000 dollars spent to acquire Sourav Ganguly - to make a substantial $ 3.4 milion dollars that it can spend in the next 10 days. Yuvraj can't play this season as he is battling cancer in the US.
5) The BCCI has agreed to a Sahara request that it be allowed to sign foreign players who were not included in the auction held earlier this month. This is subject to other franchises agreeing.
6) Sahara also wants to be allowed to play five foreign players in a match instead of the four that is allowed by IPL rules. The BCCI working committee had recently rejected changing rules to allow five foreign players in the playing XI, but Sahara has cited the non-availability of Yuvraj Singh as exceptional circumstances and offered to get the consent of all other franchises. Shah Rukh Khan, who owns the Kolkata Knight Riders, had recently hinted that it could be considered.
7) The BCCI has agreed to let Sahara get in a strategic partner in the Pune Warriors India franchise. This will be subject to the terms of the franchise agreement.
8) Sahara has requested that one of the play-off matches scheduled to be played in Bengaluru be played at a new Pune stadium instead. The right to host play-off matches is awarded to the finalists of the previous IPL season - the Royal Challengers Bangalore were finalists along with the Chennai Super Kings, who won. The BCCI is okay with this, but will need the consent of the Bangalore franchise.
9) 4) Sahara has confirmed that it will continue to sponsor the Indian cricket team. The compromise solution allows Sahara to exercise its right to assign the sponsorship in keeping with the agreement. This was the biggest blow to the BCCI when Sahara announced its decision to break its association with the cricket board in a long and emotional letter.
10) One Sahara demand, that an open auction be held in 2013, was not considered.