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Leaving Cricket be-Sahara?

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Sahara pulling out of the IPL as well as the Team India contract at the end of the year comes almost as a natural sequence to the fixing scandal and potential threats of more exposures, says Jaideep Ghosh

The Sahara India Pariwar isn’t quite in the best of health financially, that is no secret. On the contrary, what surprises people is the fact that they seem to be able to conjure up immense amounts of money from the proverbial thin air. But that magic trick is obviously not working too well now. Pune Warriors alone cost Sahara Rs 1700 crore. Then we have other assorted commitments – hockey is one, though that is loose change for the Sahara Group.

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The other big thing is the Formula One deal, where Vijay Mallya virtually hypnotized Subroto Roy Sahara into dishing out some obscene amount to get a sticker on the Force India car – a barely-visible sticker. Then of course, we have assorted commitments like sponsoring the Bangladesh cricket team.

All of this shows just one thing – having money does not necessarily mean being able to spend it. On the flip side, from the BCCI’s viewpoint, there is only so much arrogance that anyone will take, especially those investing millions of dollars in what is essentially the BCCI’s domain, without any arguments.

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Sahara has a record of pouting and walking out, like they did in 2012. That didn’t evidently come as ample lesson for BCCI, who encashed their bank guarantee, almost instantly, the moment the deadline for the contentious franchise fees had ended.

Also, Sahara, already under the microscope, would definitely be in some rush to dissociate from anything that looks shady – which the IPL has become in a span of just two days. So this is a good time to take a hike which serves two purposes.

For one, Sahara managed to jolt BCCI again. The second is that they have wriggled out of what was a disastrous deal for Pune Warriors. That they did it like some small-time retailer reflects the general mindset of the company.

There is a third thing too. God forbid any Pune players are hauled up by any of the state police forces (after all, you can only fix to lose, and who loses more than Pune?); Sahara can say they aren’t in the mix any more. As it is they don’t need more bad publicity.

go to link The sad fallout of it all is that what used to be a sport is fast becoming a joke. Sure, marketing forces will make it a saleable property again soon (read, as soon as the IPL ends and the action shifts to the Champions Trophy), but that doesn’t take away from the fact that cricket by and large is played in a shadow of illegal or not-so-legal activities. And no one can change that in a hurry.

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