Almost a year after three Rajasthan Royals players were arrested for spot-fixing in the Indian Premier League, franchise CEO Raghu Iyer has admitted that the brand image is yet to be fully restored following one of the biggest cricketing scandals in the country. “We would be lying if I say that we are not affected. But collectively it is being addressed by the right authorities, the organisers as well as the team owners,” Iyer told PTI when asked about the repercussions of the spot-fixing controversy during the IPL last year which began with the arrest of S. Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan on May 16.
Iyer said there is still some time left before they win back the confidence of the sponsors though their fans and sport lovers remain unaffected with what transpired last year. “As far as fans are concerned, you have to go by the numbers flocking to the stadium. Overall, the crowd in UAE was good and I am sure we will get good attendance in all our matches in our new home in Ahmedabad. “Last season, we played three games after the controversy and we still witnessed a packed house. So the cricket fans usually remain unaffected but the sponsors require communication which is being done and action (on spot-fixing) which will be taken,” said Iyer, who has been the team’s CEO since the start of the IPL in 2008.
Royals had 18 sponsors (10 jersey sponsors, 8 partners) last year and the number remains same this year with one less name on the team jersey. “Some of our sponsors have stayed away this year. May be they have taken a break for a year and will come back next year,” said Iyer. The team’s co-owner Raj Kundra’s named was also dragged in the IPL scandal but betting allegations against him are yet to be proved. The revelations of last season has ensured the security cover around the teams is much bigger this time.
“There is far more security and cover around the whole tournament but it is not at the level of being intrusive. If you ask the players and the officials they will tell you they have not felt restricted with the security cover. All is being done in a very professional manner and most importantly cricket is not suffering,” explained Iyer. As a team, the 2008 IPL champions continue to punch above their weight and have won five out of their seven games so far.
“The nature of the tournament is such that you go up and down, there are 14 matches. It is still early days but we are happy with our performance so far,” said the CEO. In seven seasons, Royals have earned reputation of making the optimum use of resources by spending wisely. Iyer gave a sneak peek to the team’s philosophy. “Our philosophy has been spending the right amount on the cricketer. We also believe the economics of the business is also important. Somebody may spend more but we have chosen not to. This season actually we have spend far more than previous seasons. We usually spend around 60 percent of the entire purse, this time we went to about 80 or 90 percent,” he added.