Updated: August 6, 2020 7:51:25 am
TWO DAYS after the IPL governing council decided to continue with Vivo as the T20 tournament’s title sponsor, the Chinese smartphone maker is all set to pull out — at least for the 2020 edition starting next month in the UAE. Confirming the development, a BCCI official told The Indian Express that an official statement on the withdrawal will be issued in “a couple of days”. The parting of ways, temporary and by mutual consent, follows a public backlash after the council decided Sunday to hold the IPL from September 19 to November 10 in the UAE, and continue with its China-linked sponsors.
Vivo acquired the IPL title sponsorship for Rs 2,199 crore in 2018 in a five-year deal. “We (BCCI and Vivo) sat after the governing council meeting and agreed on a one-year moratorium. We will also see if their contract can be extended by one year after 2023. This issue will be settled amicably,” the BCCI official said.
An IPL council member, too, confirmed the development. “We will issue a new RFP (Request For Proposal). The process will be very transparent,” the member said.
On the possibility of getting a new sponsor in such a short period, amid the Covid distress, another council member said: “The IPL is the game’s most saleable product. Also, because of the pandemic, people are staying home, which means more eyeballs on TV. So if we can present our case properly, we will have takers. Already, they (senior board officials) are in talks with a couple of people,” he said.
The IPL’s decision to continue with its China-linked sponsors came amidst calls from various sections to boycott Chinese products in the wake of border clashes that led to the killing of 20 Indian soldiers.
Following the IPL move, former J&K CM and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah tweeted: “Chinese cellphone makers will continue as title sponsors of the IPL while people are told to boycott Chinese products. It’s no wonder China is thumbing its nose at us when we are so confused about how to handle Chinese money/ investment/ sponsorship/ advertising.”
The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) said that it has written to Union Home Minister Amit Shah and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, opposing the BCCI’s decision. The RSS affiliate, Swadeshi Jagran Manch, called on fans to consider boycotting the league.
BCCI sources said that according to the IPL’s sponsorship contracts, a mutual agreement to part ways “will spare both parties a lot of technical and legal hassles”.
Apart from Vivo, the IPL’s Chinese connections include Paytm, with investment from Alibaba, as official umpire partner. Dream 11, the online fantasy league partner, and Swiggy, an associate sponsor, are linked to internet giant Tencent.
The latest move, however, appears to have taken the IPL franchises by surprise. One franchise official described the move as “shocking”. “The IPL is a huge brand and a replacement will be available, but the sponsorship amount may not be on a par with the existing one,” said the official.
The BCCI shares the broadcast revenue of IPL with the franchises on a 50:50 ratio, apart from handing over 10-20 per cent of the other sponsorship revenue. In an IPL away from home, with increased overhead expenses and without gate receipts, franchises are already walking a financial tightrope. “We would do well to just break even,” said the official.
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