New Delhi - India's national cricket team has lost its major sponsor Sahara India after an 11-year association.
Sahara India announced on Satuday it will end its sponsorship of the national team and would also give up its ownership of Indian Premier League team Pune Warriors.
The sponsorship contract was not due to expire until next year but Sahara said it will only stay on for a few months while the Board of Control for Cricket in India finds a replacement. Sahara had been paying 3.34 crore rupees ($670 000) for each Test, one-dayer and Twenty20 game.
The announcement was made through a press release only an hour before the scheduled start of an IPL players' auction.
"We are withdrawing from all cricket under BCCI," Sahara India said in the release. "However, we don't want to give any problem to the BCCI and we also feel that the players should not suffer. BCCI will definitely take 2-4 months to get a new sponsor and we will continue paying the sponsorship money till then."
"All other IPL team players, coaches and other such associates will definitely get their due this year, in case they do not get a chance to play."
The group cited instances where it felt the the BCCI had not been flexible, particularly relating to the IPL.
"Last year, Sahara entered the IPL on the basis of information in the media and everywhere else that 94 matches will be played among 10 teams. The bid price was accordingly calculated, but only 74 matches were played. We are still pursuing continuously with the BCCI to refund the extra bid money proportionately. It has been denied on the basis of strict rules," it said.
Sahara, a diversified investment conglomerate which owns a minority stake in Formula One team Force India, says it will divert its sponsorship funds to promote sports in rural areas.