Banks take over MCA stadium in Pune over loan payment defaults

MCA secretary says cricket activities will not be disrupted at the international stadium, which hosted an ODI last week.

Maharashtra is scheduled to play at least two of its remaining three home games in the Ranji Trophy league stage at the Gahunje stadium. Besides, some of the junior matches are likely to be hosted at the same venue.   -  Vivek Bendre

Hours after the Bank of Maharashtra (BoM) announced “symbolic possession” of the Maharashtra Cricket Association's (MCA's) international stadium in Gahunje through a  notice in Loksatta, a Marathi newspaper, the MCA secretary Riyaz Bagwan stressed, “cricket activities will not be disrupted”.

The notice stated that the banks have taken possession of the state-of-the-art stadium. Its ownership was in doubt ever since the MCA's title sponsorship deal with Sahara group was abruptly terminated in 2012 – on November 2, on the second day's play of Maharashtra's Ranji Trophy season-opener against Vidarbha.

The bank had no choice but to take over the stadium since the MCA failed to repay the dues of Rs. 69.53 crore to four banks, including BoM.

“Today, I have got it clarified by the bank officials that the cricket activities will not be disrupted at all since it's a notional possession,” Bagwan told Sportstar from Pune on Monday.

“They have said they will not let any of Maharashtra's matches or training sessions get hampered throughout the season.”

Possession deferred

Maharashtra is scheduled to play at least two of its remaining three home games in the Ranji Trophy league stage at the Gahunje stadium. Besides, some of the junior matches are likely to be hosted at the same venue.

According to Monday's notice, the bank – along with Karnataka Bank, Bank of Baroda and Andhra Bank – had served a  60-day notice to MCA on August 18. Since the MCA failed to repay the outstanding amount, the banks on Friday took possession of the stadium.

The notice also urges the general public to not indulge in any transaction with the MCA and stated that all the payments made to MCA will be redirected to the banks for the settlement of loan accounts.

Sportstar understands that the MCA had requested the banks to defer the possession of the stadium till the smooth conduct of India's ODI against West Indies at the venue on October 27.

Besides the annual subvention and the infrastructure subsidy MCA receives from the Board of Control for Cricket in India, the Sahara deal – estimated to be Rs. 215 crore over 10 years (Sahara is believed to have paid Rs. 84 crore before the deal came to an end) – was the only major source of revenue for the MCA.

Release of funds still a concern

Bagwan added that being the lone eligible managing committee member of the association, that has been termed “partially compliant” to Lodha reforms by the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA), he has made multiple requests to the CoA for releasing funds.

“On October 17, I met BCCI CEO Rahul Johri and Saba Karim (general manager, cricket operations) in Mumbai. They agreed that the BCCI will foot all the expenses not only for the ODI (against West Indies) but also for all of Maharashtra's logistical bills all through the season,” Bagwan said.

“Then in the following week, I again requested Mr. Vinod Rai (CoA chairman) to release funds for partial payment to the bank. However, during the last three months, I haven't received any response from the CoA with regard to releasing of funds.”