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Old November 27, 2004, 11:01 AM
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Default ESPN-STAR on collision course with BCB

Bishwajit Roy

The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) has become involved in a bitter dispute with ESPN-STAR Sports over title sponsorship of next month's home series against India.

It was learnt that the Board had discussed ESPN-STAR Sports' claim that they own title sponsorship rights of the series against India in several meetings over the last few days and has decided to take the sports channel head on.

When contacted, chairman of the BCB's media committee Reazuddin al-Mamun admitted that there has been some displeasure on both sides following ESPN-STAR Sports' demand.

"The BCB is sole authority for selling title sponsorship of the home series but there was a hole in the contract by virtue of which the satellite company, who have a five-year contract with the Board, are making their claim," said Mamun without elaborating.

If the debate lingers on, further complications could arise with the series facing a television blackout which could in the process, even put India's tour in jeopardy.

Mamun however said that the Board was even prepared to fight it in court if it is not resolved amicably although that might not be required.

"We are hopeful of reaching a settlement shortly as both parties are aware of what is at stake. But we will not mind going to the Court of Arbitration in London to uphold our legitimate demands," said Mamun.

"Our legal expert assured us that there is a clause in the contract that empowers us to seek fifty percent of the money for title sponsorship from this particular series," added Mamun.

A BCB official said that at first ESPN-STAR Sports had asked the Board to name the title sponsors for the series but then made a complete U-turn by claiming that the BCB was contract-bound to declare it as the title sponsor.

"The BCB can not claim the full sponsorship money as there were some complicated clauses in the contract. The Board usually earns 150 thousand US dollars from selling title sponsorship but it stands to get half of that amount from the India series," he explained.

India are scheduled to arrive in Dhaka on December 7 to play two Tests and three ODIs against the Tigers.

Mamun also clarified that the title-sponsorship argument was not related to a proposed triangular series involving Bangladesh, India and another country by 2006. ESPN-STAR Sports will sponsor that tournament and Bangladesh as hosts will receive US$ 1.2 million as bonus money when it takes place.

Sources said that the Board had already received lucrative offers from two leading Indian companies -- TATA and Videocon -- about title sponsorship.

ESPN-STAR Sports' five-year contact with the BCB worth 11.5 million dollars for telecasting rights of Bangladesh's home series' expires in 2006. The Board has reportedly received the whole amount in installments already.

Source: DailyStar
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