Mumbai, Jan. 29: ESPN had threatened to sue Cricket Australia if India pulled out of the one-day series over the Harbhajan Singh row, a top official at the television network said.
We told them (CA) point-blank that if India withdraws from the one-day series because of the Aussies inflexibility over dropping charges against Bhajji, we would incur nearly $60 million worth of revenue loss. Since that was unacceptable to us, we would be left with no choice but to file a lawsuit against them, the official said.
As the global media and production partner of the International Cricket Council from 2007 to 2015, ESPN-STAR Sports holds the rights to broadcast the one-day series involving Australia, India and Sri Lanka in Asia.
Officials at the network claimed the threat had a role in getting the Australians to drop the racism charge against the off-spinner today.
Ricky Pontings boys were informed about the ESPN threat by CA before the Harbhajan hearing in Adelaide, the officials said. They were also told that given the lack of evidence against the Indian bowler, there was no guarantee the charge would stand the test of an inquisition.
India had said it would pull out of the tour if the racism charge was not dropped.
The Australians had during the Sydney Test accused Harbhajan of calling Andrew Symonds a monkey.