Oct 04 2013
A faltering economy and the fact that all is not well with the country’s richest sports forced BCCI to settle for Rs 2 crore per match from the only sponsorship bidder
Given a combination of the faltering economy and the widespread perception in the market and elsewhere that all is not well with the country’s richest sports organisation, it was unlikely that any bid for the six-month deal would get anywhere near the Rs 3.3 crore former sponsors Bharti Airtel had shelled out, but even so, the drop was a drastic one.
The winning bid was the only one handed in. In all, only two entities showed any interest in the sponsorship, and went as far as buying the bid document. One of them never came back.
BCCI officials sought to make light of the matter. Said its secretary, Sanjay Patel, after it was announced that Star and ESPN Software had bagged the title sponsorship for all domestic and international tournaments in India for the year 2013-14, “The market situation is such that at one point of time we thought it will be very difficult to get the sponsorship considering the turmoil in the financial market. But we are very happy. We are pleased that Star and ESPN Group bid for both the series. That means Australia and West Indies and the deal will be close to Rs 26 crore. Only one bid was there and the minimum bidding price (is what) they have accepted.
“But we are happy they have included the Australia series also though it is starting within two or three days. Under the market situation, we are happy the deal has gone through and the entire series is covered,” he said.
India are scheduled to play two international series between now and March of next year — a single T20 game and seven one-dayers against Australia starting next week and two Tests and three ODIs against the West Indies. The number may go up considering the mess that surrounds the scheduling of India’s tour of South Africa is yet to be sorted out and a further ODI bilateral event of a mini-tournament is being talked about to fill up the possible gap.
The agreement also takes in domestic championships including the Irani Cup, the Ranji Trophy, the Duleep Trophy, Vijay Hazare and Deodhar trophies and the Raj Singh Dungarpur Trophy.
What seems evident now that the concrete figures for this short-term pact are in is the fact that the BCCI cannot wish away the ever-increasingly negative perception that surrounds it in the aftermath of the spot-fixing and conflict of interest scandals that have gone as far as the door of the president, Narayanswami Srinivasan.
“I don’t think negative news has got anything to do with these kinds of things. Cricket is going on well. Our teams are doing well. It is not attributed to any image. According to us there is no question of a bad image,” Patel insisted. “Such deals are market driven. One has to be happy with the market situation. Rather than concentrating on less or more price, we should concentrate on what you are getting as per the market situation. We are quite happy that as per the market situation, the price is not bad,” he added.
Meanwhile, the South Africa tour continues to hang fire and the Board’s latest on the matter is that Cricket SA acted unilaterally in announcing the dates for India’s winter visit to the Rainbow Nation. “Things are going since long. Certain things have to be put in right perspective. Let me inform you that BCCI in normal circumstances would have done anything. But the protocol of finalising any series is joint declaration. But that declaration was originally done without the BCCI’s approval. So we are waiting,” Patel said.
Here too, l’affaire Srinivasan seems to be casting its shadow. A meeting in Dubai recently between representatives of the two boards led nowhere, nor did Srinivasan’s unanimous re-election. It is now believed that the BCCI is waiting to see which way the public interest litigation filed in the Supreme Court against his taking office, goes before deciding on a next step.
On the upside comes the news that the India captain-in-waiting, Virat Kohli, has overtaken the incumbent, Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the endorsement stakes. From being the captain of the national Under-18 World Cup-winning team to a member of the victorious senior World Cup champions, the Delhi boy seems to have settled in the eyes of corporate India as THE long-term prospect.
Kohli’s recent deals with Adidas, Dabur and a few other brands have pushed him into a new league altogether, but more of this later.