BCCI prevails in arbitration ruling on WSG's long ago terminated IPL deal
The Board of Control for Cricket in India has won an arbitration ruling which appears to draw a line under a long running dispute relating to the termination of a lucrative broadcasting rights deal with the World Sport Group agency for the Indian Premier League.
A three-member Supreme Court arbitration tribunal yesterday upheld the BCCI’s decision in June 2010 to cancel the 10-year international broadcasting rights deal with WSG.
The ruling will enable the BCCI to access proceeds from the BCCI-WSG agreement which have been sitting in an escrow account, plus interest, a figure that amounts to more than Rs8 billion ($106 million), according to Indian media reports.
The case went to arbitration with WSG, which was subsequently rebranded under the Lagardère Sports umbrella, reported to have staked a claim over the profit it would have received under the deal, and sought damages for wrongful termination of its contract.
The agency had signed 10-year domestic and international rights agreements for the IPL worth $1.026 billion prior to the first edition of the popular Twenty20 competition in 2008.
However, two years later, the BCCI unilaterally terminated WSG’s contract, citing an $80-million ‘facilitation fee’ paid to the agency after the governing body subsequently sold the rights in the Indian subcontinent to Sony-owned Multi Screen Media
The controversy is thought to have contributed to the dismissal of IPL commissioner Lalit Modi, the man regarded as the architect of the league, in 2010. He was banned for life by the BCCI in 2013.
Senior supreme court counsel P Raghu Raman, who advised the BCCI and its secretary N Srinivasan in 2010, has welcomed this week’s ruling, telling the Times of India: “It is a result of BCCI's courage of conviction back then that has led to this. It is Srinivasan who put his foot down and challenged this move on part of Modi and his actions have been proved right by the highest court of law.
“He saved the BCCI close to Rs3 billion then and today, with interest accrued, which is the BCCI’s money, the board gets back close to Rs8 billion.”
In 2015, Lagardère Sports and Entertainment revealed that by-then-rebranded WSG had been ordered to pay €26 million as reimbursement of past proceeds, including interests, by the International Court of Arbitration, which ruled on the case after the Indian Supreme Court had ordered the companies into arbitration.
Earlier this year, Lagardère sold a 75.1 per cent stake in Lagardère Sports to H.I.G. Europe, a division of the USA-based private equity and alternative assets investment firm, in a deal which valued the agency at €110 million. It has since been rebranded as Sportfive.
MSM, renamed as Sony Pictures Networks, was the long-time television home of the IPL in India but was replaced by Star India in 2018 under a five-year multi-platform deal worth $2.55 billion.
Meanwhile, Henang Amin, the chief operating officer of the IPL, has today been named as interim chief executive of the BCCI.
He will fill the void left by Rahul Johri who is stepping down as chief executive a year before his contract was due to expire. A new permanent chief executive is expected to be appointed in the next two months.
Amin, who previously reported to Johri, has overseen the operations of the IPL since 2017.
The 2020 competition, scheduled for March to May, was postponed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and a decision on whether it can be rescheduled for later this year is expected to be made at a BCCI apex council meeting on Friday.
It is thought that the lucrative event could yet be held in a window from September to November if, as expected, the ICC Men's T20 World Cup in Australia is postponed to next year.