The BCCI has over the years acquired the reputation of a domineering big brother in dealing with its various partners, thanks to Team India's massive popularity at home and abroad. From broadcasters, to various sponsors, franchise owners, overseas telecast rights holders, online partners and more, they have all, at some point of time, complained that dealing with the Indian cricket board hasn't been easy .
That was until recently when Star TV , the present right holders for all cricket played in India and sponsors of the Indian national teams, did the impossible. In a show of rare bonhomie, Star has managed to convince the BCCI to waive off $475m that they were scheduled to pay for the remaining four years of Champions League T20 event under the 10-year deal signed between BCCI and the ESPN-Star JV in 2009. In turn, Star will pay the BCCI, Cricket South Africa and Cricket Australia the three boards which host the tournament -a collective compensatory figure of $300m to exit the tournament.
ESPN-Star had bought the Champions League rights for a period of 10 years starting 2009 for a huge $975m after losing out on the Indian Premier League (IPL) rights that had been offered to MSM India in 2007-08. Six editions of the tournament have been played so far and four remain, including the 2015 season.
Sources say the understanding between BCCI and Star to close the deal took place when N Srinivasan -the present International Cricket Council (ICC) chairman -was at the helm of affairs in BCCI. The announcement has been delayed only because financial parameters had to be worked out.
The deal will help Star save on an estimated $90m per season that they had to shell out (four seasons remained) as part of the tripartite agreement between them and the three cricket boards for a property that clearly had few takers. Giving BCCI's penny-pinching ways of conducting business, only the board's bigwigs can explain why they decided to act on the misery afflicting their biggest business partner. "They've rarely shown such a generous side," said a source.
Star TV holds the Indian telecast rights, the national team's sponsorship rights, the online media rights and the ground and title rights for the cricket played in India. Their partners in UK, Sky TV , hold the IPL's international telecast rights. It seems, this has prompted the board to bail them out of the CLT20 mess.
Now with Star guaranteed to bleed less, they'll have to wait and see what the board has in store for them when they unveil plans for the Twenty20 league in the UAE. Not a single IPL franchise has been told about the plans which are being set in motion but what is certain is that the tournament in UAE will not be another version of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Sources say the initial idea of the BCCI was to involve the top four teams of the IPL just like it used to be the case in CLT20. However, with Cricket South Africa restructuring its own Twenty20 circuit which will be scheduled somewhere around the same time, the new league's modalities will need time to get worked out.
"In another week, there should be a better idea of what to expect," said the source close to developments.