BCCI postpones IPL rights bidding process

The BCCI release issued on Monday said: “In the absence of permission from the [Lodha] Committee to go ahead with the [bidding] process scheduled for tomorrow [Tuesday], the BCCI is unable to do so” © BCCI

Citing “unforeseen” circumstances over which it has “no control”, the BCCI has postponed the IPL media rights bidding process scheduled for Tuesday. The board made the announcement through a media release late on Monday and did not state a further date when the bidding process would take place.

The release said that since the Supreme Court order on October 21 had made the Lodha Committee the “custodian” of the IPL tender process, the BCCI, despite being well prepared, had to wait for further directives from the panel before proceeding with the bidding for the IPL media rights which the board had decided would be secured through an open tender.

The release stated: “As the Committee has been entrusted by the Hon’ble Supreme Court with the mandate of overseeing the tender process and in effect is now the custodian of the IPL tender process and has to take all actions to safeguard the IPL tender and the interest of BCCI and cricket in India, the BCCI wrote to the Committee on 21st October 2016 itself immediately on receipt of the Judgment, inter alia seeking guidance on (a) whether to defer the IPL tender or (b) to cancel the same and (c) requesting that the name of the auditor appointed be intimated to the BCCI to ensure that he could be associated with the IPL tender. Further, BCCI has sent all the IPL Media Rights Tender documents to the Committee along with the Revised MRAs and relevant documents, which are yet to be issued to the Potential Bidders.”

Offering its “sincere apology”, the board requested all potential bidders to stay patient. “The BCCI requests all bidders to appreciate that the events as have occurred were unforeseen and something over which the BCCI has no control.”

Considering the court order had come four days prior to the bidding, the BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke wrote to the committee on Saturday again, pointing out the “urgency in the matter”. Shirke also mentioned the 18 companies that had bought the Invitation To Tender (ITT) document, saying a “large number of potential bidders” would be represented by their overseas staff and hence the BCCI would need to lay out timelines to facilitate the process.

Failing to do so would hurt the board’s “commercial interests”, the BCCI told the committee. The release issued on Monday stated: “The BCCI has accordingly sent requests on 23rd October 2016 and 24th October 2016 to the Committee on the aforesaid lines and requested for confirmation of receipt of emails and an urgent response to avoid any uncertainty in the IPL tender process to avoid any inconvenience to potential bidders. The BCCI also informed the Committee that any delay in responding and resultant uncertainty was hurting the commercial interest of the BCCI as it would lead to devaluation of the commercial rights that were to be awarded.”

The prevailing uncertainty, the BCCI stated, had put potential bidders on the edge and they had put forth “numerous queries” and asked for a “clear roadmap on the way forward”.

A prominent company, which was supposed to go hard during the bidding, confirmed to ESPNcricnfo that it had sent an e-mail to the BCCI on Sunday. This company had asked for the final Media Rights Agreement (MRA) which the BCCI had prepared after clarifying doubts through a two-round process with potential bidders. “We asked the board for the MRA saying how do you expect us to enter the bidding without the documents (MRA) in hand,” a senior official from the company said.

However, the official pointed out his company was prepared for the postponement keeping in mind the court was hearing the matter. “There was no urgency from our side. We still have next year’s IPL. The new cycle of rights starts only from 2018.”

In its defence, the BCCI said that the MRA could not be issued as it was awaiting a reply from the Lodha Committee. Finally, on Monday afternoon, at “3:07 pm”, the BCCI said in the release it got the committee’s first response asking for “certain further undertakings” and “further clarifications”. The BCCI said it had responded to the committee, which acknowledged saying it would issue directions after “meeting amongst themselves”.

The board said once the committee responds, the BCCI would update the potential bidders accordingly. “The BCCI, apart from the above communication, has so far at the time of going to Press, not received any further directions from the Committee, which is now the custodian of the entire process and has been tasked with the duty to ensure that the tender process is undertaken in a professional and transparent manner with least inconvenience to all stakeholders. Once the BCCI receives a response from the Committee it shall bring the same to the notice of all stakeholders as the BCCI is currently not in a position to take any decision in the matter other than what the Committee recommends. In the absence of permission from the Committee to go ahead with the process scheduled for tomorrow, the BCCI is unable to do so.”

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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