Indian hockey has been rocked by yet another controversy.
The team's main sponsor, Sahara India Pariwar, has threatened to take the game's administrators, the Indian Olympic Association-appointed ad-hoc committee, to court for not using the company logo on the national team's outfit.
Sahara's sports management company, Kolkata-based Leisure Sports Management Private Limited, served a legal notice to the ad-hoc body for breach of contract, which calls for the use of its logo on the national team's jersey for every international outing.
"Yes, we have sent them (the ad-hoc committee) a legal notice for playing without the Sahara logo in the on-going Punjab Gold Cup in Chandigarh and if they don't respond to our notice, we will take them to court," Chairman and Managing Director of LSM, S S Dasgupta said.
On behalf of Sahara, LSM entered into an eight-year contract worth approximately Rs 20 crore with the erstwhile Indian Hockey Federation in 2004 to use the company logo on the senior as well as junior national team's outfit during all international tournaments.
After the KPS Gill-led IHF's dissolution last April, the contract still existed and the national team used the Sahara logo in four international tournaments, the most recent being the senior team's four-Test Argentina tour last month.
Dasgupta, however, expressed astonishment over discrepancy in using the sponsor's logo and said as far as payments are concerned, the company cannot pay such huge money to anybody without proper documents as a legal battle is on between the Gill-led IHF and the ad-hoc body.
"Since April the national team played with our logo in four tournaments -- Azlan Shah, junior Asia Cup in Hyderabad, junior team's four-nation event in Australia and senior's Argentina tour -- but I don't understand why they didn't use the logo in two events (the junior team's Argentina tour and on-going Punjab Gold Cup)," Dasgupta said.
"We were always ready to pay the amount, but we cannot pay the money to anyone without proper papers. We have sent them an addendum in August, they even agreed to it. Ad-hoc committee member A K Mattoo, who is handling the sponsorship issue, had raised objection in two clauses and asked them to be changed. Accordingly, we ratified the clauses and sent it back but till today they haven't signed on it.
"They have not written a single letter to us since then. We cannot pay the money this way."
The ad-hoc committee, however, had a different take on the matter, saying they were forced to scrap Sahara's logo from the players' jerseys in the on-going Punjab Gold Cup after the company failed to keep its promise of paying their dues.
"It has been nine months Sahara haven't given a single penny to us, but still we have using their logo during international tournaments as they promised us before every international outing they will pay the dues soon. But how long can this last," ad-hoc committee convenor Mohd Aslam said.
"Even they haven't paid the bills of the manufacturer who made the kits. Everything was only in conversation and it never materialised.
"Every sponsorship deal is a give and take policy. If you want something, you have to give something in return."
Asked whether they have received any legal notice from Sahara, he said, "I don't have any knowledge about it but if we get something our lawyer is good enough to handle the issue."