BCCI finds no takers for team sponsorship

BCCI finds no takers for team sponsorship

New Delhi: It’s akin to a match being called off without a ball being bowled.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the richest sporting body in the country, may have overestimated the price companies are willing to pay to get their name on the uniforms of Sachin Tendulkar and Mahendra Singh Dhoni when playing for the country.

The board has been forced to indefinitely postpone the meeting of its marketing committee scheduled for 24 November to decide the next sponsor of the national cricket team, after there were no bidders for the rights, estimated at around Rs800 crore.

“The meeting for the tender opening for team sponsorship rights for the period January 2010 till December 2013 has been postponed," said Sauravh Kachroo, administrative officer, media committee, BCCI. Kachroo declined to comment on the reason for this but added that the decision had been taken by the board’s secretary, N. Srinivasan.

Srinivasan declined to comment on the meeting, and said: “We still have to work on some details. We will evaluate the bids received on the 25th (of November)."

A BCCI member admitted that the poor response from potential sponsors has left the board with little choice but to keep the bidding window open. He did not want to be identified as he’s not authorized to speak to the media.

The surprise waning of interest in national team sponsorship comes at a time when data indicates that the Indian Premier League, BCCI’s popular Twenty20 league, has gained at the expense of other forms of the game. IPL, which is played by clubs, received 40% of the estimated Rs1,200 crore advertising revenue devoted to sports this year, according to media buying agency GroupM India Pvt. Ltd. That has put the squeeze on other cricketing events such as the Champion’s League, the Champion’s Trophy and the Twenty20 World Cup, which have all suffered. Their television viewership, too, has declined.

With Sahara India Pariwar’s four-year sponsorship contract coming to an end on 31 December, BCCI had issued a tender earlier this month inviting interested firms to submit their bids between 2 November and 24 November.

With BCCI expecting Rs3-3.5 crore for each of the approximately 240 matches to be played in the next four years, advertisers expect to have to pay as much as Rs700-800 crore for the rights, compared with the Rs313 crore that Sahara bid in 2005.

BCCI had earlier told Mint that it was expecting a minimum bid of Rs400 crore for the next four years, but an executive from Sahara pointed out, speaking on condition of anonymity, that the eventual payout is likely to be much higher. That’s because the contract is signed for a certain number of matches and the sponsor ends up paying more if the team plays more matches.

“The number of cricket matches have gone up. We bid Rs313 crore for the rights, but more matches were added and we ended up paying Rs435 crore at the end of four years," he said. “Even though BCCI is saying there will be 120-170 matches, the cricket calendar is booked for at least 240 matches."

Advertisers are not willing to play ball.

“Yesterday (Sunday) was the last day for companies to submit their bids to BCCI, but I don’t think anyone even picked up a bid because of the high sponsorship fees attached," said a senior executive at a telco who spoke on condition of anonymity. The telco had initially expressed interest in acquiring the rights when BCCI issued the tender, but the asking price attached forced the company to pull out.

Mint has learnt that companies such as Bharti Airtel Ltd, Samsung India Electronics Pvt. Ltd, LG Electronics India Pvt. Ltd, Nike India Pvt. Ltd, Coca-Cola India and PepsiCo India Holdings Pvt. Ltd have decided to not bid for the rights.

“It’s too expensive and we don’t know if it’s worth Rs800 crore," said a PepsiCo executive who did not want to be identified.

“Everyone is pulling out because it is too expensive," added a senior executive from Coca-Cola who, too, did not want to be identified.

Even Sahara, which has sponsored the team since the beginning of this decade, isn’t willing to pay what BCCI expects. “If the BCCI expects Rs800 crore, we are not in," said the Sahara executive.