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BCCI set for tough stand against sponsor

Calcutta: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) may ‘blacklist’ Pepsi if the Purchase-headquartered multinational continues to insist on damages arising out of the World Cup 2003-related Player Terms row featuring the Sourav Gangulys.

Though the claim has been placed before the Global Cricket Corporation (GCC), which holds marketing rights of all International Cricket Council (ICC) events till the 2007 World Cup, the damages could eventually land at the BCCI’s door.

“If Pepsi persists with its claim, we will have to take a firm stand on not associating with that multinational. Clearly, we can’t encourage a situation whereby one of our ‘partners’ is actually out to hurt the interests of Indian cricket,” an influential BCCI member told The Telegraph, Monday.

While it couldn’t be confirmed, Pepsi’s “scaled down” demand for damages is in the region of Rs 17 crore, covering the period between now and the 2007 World Cup (in the West Indies). As of now, then, the BCCI runs the risk of having to cough up that amount.

It’s another matter, of course, that the dispute may first head for the Lausanne-located Court of Arbitration for Sport. In any case, the ICC — specifically, its business arm IDI Limited — has held back $ 9 million, India’s share of the World Cup guarantee money.

[Incidentally, withholding that hasn’t been well received by the BCCI. “We don’t sit on any money… If we are denied our share, it’s the development of the sport which will suffer,” pointed out a peeved Kishore Rungta, the treasurer, when contacted in Jaipur.]

In the immediate context, Pepsi’s claim could result in the BCCI deciding not to entertain a bid for sponsoring Tests and ODIs at home, from the next (2003-2004) season.

Pepsi’s (latest) three-season contract, which became effective from 2000-2001, has ended. The BCCI received Rs 85 lakh for every Test/ODI and Pepsi had the right to “assign” the sponsorship title elsewhere, subject to the BCCI’s approval.

According to the influential member, it’s possible that the much-delayed business of offering contracts to the players will be expedited and, more important, there may be a clause forbidding either entering into/renewing personal endorsements with a corporate entity ‘blacklisted’ by the BCCI.

Besides Team India captain Sourav, Pepsi is endorsed by Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, V.V.S.Laxman, Harbhajan Singh, Ajit Agarkar, Mohammed Kaif, Zaheer Khan and Yuvraj Singh.

“Whatever is put in place will surely go through hours and hours of deliberations… At the moment, it’s a delicate issue. Having said that, the BCCI will have to set an example if Pepsi insists on damages,” the influential member added.

LG Electronics, too, has filed a claim. The BCCI, however, doesn’t have a tie-up with the South Korean multinational. Like Pepsi, LG enjoyed Global Partner status in the World Cup.

Significantly, contrary to reports (filed by a wire agency, Sunday), Official Sponsor Hero Honda apparently hasn’t moved for damages.

Obviously, such a stand is in keeping with its Desh ki Dhadkan image and will come as a relief to BCCI chief Jagmohan Dalmiya, who is busy finalising strategy to counter any claim.

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