Vivo bows out as IPL 2020 title sponsors


IPL UAE news August 2020 brands bail out Image: IPL (Twitter)

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) recently confirmed Vivo’s exit as title sponsors of IPL 2020. The deep-pocketed Board is all set to invite new bids for the sponsorship deal. Learning app BYJU’s owned by Bengaluru-based Indian billionaire Byju Raveendran and beverage giant Coca-Cola are among brands interested in bidding.

BCCI recently made an official announcement that it has suspended the title sponsorship deal with Vivo for this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) which is all set to be staged in the UAE from September 19. This decision was taken by BCCI after it received immense backlash on social media over retaining Chinese cellphone brand Vivo as their main sponsors for the cash-rich T20 league.

IPL boss Brijesh Patel has informed that the Indian Government has given the nod to conduct this year’s Indian Premier League in the UAE. The IPL boss also said that BCCI, in all likelihood, will announce the tournament’s new title sponsors by August 18. There will be a seven-day window for interested companies to submit the bid.

Vivo’s exit was also prompted by the calls for the boycott of Chinese goods across India following the Galwan Valley (in Ladakh, India) clash between the Indian Army and their counterpart in China which saw 20 Indian soldiers lose lives and more than 40 soldiers on the Chinese side is also said to have perished. After Vivo’s exit, two new brands have reportedly expressed their desire to become title sponsors of IPL 2020. India-China relations have nosedived after the Galwan Valley clash.

BYJU’s is already the sponsor for the Indian cricket team and is reportedly in talks with BCCI over becoming the main sponsor of IPL 2020. The online education startup has also set aside Rs 300 crore for the sponsorship deal.

BYJU’s is also the team sponsor of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the IPL and KKR co-owner and Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan is the Brand Ambassador of the company. BYJU’s has not made any comment on their desire to become the title sponsor of IPL 2020. On the other hand, Coca-Cola India said it will continue to observe the situation before making a move.

Coca-Cola India insisted that it is committed to remain invested in cricket – “We continue to stay invested in cricket and (are) observing how the situation evolves. We are awaiting more details before making a decision.”

Indian Govt nod

The IPL will be held in the UAE from September 19 to November 10 in three cities — Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The Indian Government recently gave an “in principle” go-ahead to the BCCI to shift the marquee league to the UAE as India continues to be battered by COVID-19.

“Yes, we have received all the written approvals,” Patel told mediapersons when asked whether the permission has come in writing from both the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

When an Indian sports body shifts a domestic tournament abroad, it requires clearance from Home, External and Sports Ministries, respectively.

“Once we had the verbal okay from the Government, we had intimated the Emirates Cricket Board. Now we have the papers also, so franchises can be intimated that everything is in order,” stated a veteran BCCI official.

Most of the franchises will be flying out after August 20 after two mandatory RT-PCR (COVID-19 tests) conducted within 24 hours from their departure base.

The Chennai Super Kings players and staff, who are leaving on August 22, will have a small camp at the Chepauk (in Chennai – a State in India) on the insistence of skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

The BCCI is also facing problems on the sponsorship front after calling off the title deal with Chinese mobile phone company Vivo for the current year due to massive public outrage over the Galwan Valley face-off.

With Vivo, it was an Rs 440 crore deal and as BCCI looks at potential sponsors, Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali has also evinced interest in becoming the new title sponsor.

However, an upbeat Patel stated that a lot of companies are interested in becoming IPL sponsors – “It is not a setback (Vivo pulling out), there is already a lot of interest (for title rights). Whether an Indian company or from anywhere else, whoever bids the most gets the rights. We will finalize the whole process by August 18.”

BCCI bids

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) seems to be in a tearing hurry to lock the title sponsorship of the 13th edition of the IPL by next week, as pressure from franchisees and other stakeholders’ mounts on the top cricketing body.

Bids or expressions of interest (EoIs) for the title sponsorship would have to be submitted by August 14, the BCCI said on Monday, abandoning the tender process typically employed for large contracts.

The rights would be available for the August 18-December 31, 2020 period, and the bids would be opened by August 18, it said.

The announcement is in keeping with the BCCI’s rulebook, which stipulates that the body has to make public the process for initiating partners for contracts above Rs 25 lakh.

Vivo had signed a five-year deal with BCCI as the title sponsor of the league in 2017 and paid around Rs 444 crore per year to the Board. However, now the Board has the challenge to find a suitable sponsor for this season in a market which has been shattered by COVID-19.

Vivo was drafted as the title sponsor of the IPL in 2018 for five years. Vivo said last week it was pausing its title sponsorship of IPL for a year following protests against Chinese goods in India that has grown since the stand-off between Indian and Chinese soldiers in Galwan Valley. Vivo was paying Rs 440 crore annually towards its title sponsorship and had already completed two years of its five-year contract. The company may now get into a fresh contract in 2021 for a three-year period.

A 2019 study by consultancy firm Duff & Phelps had valued the IPL at $6.8 billion, up seven percent from the previous year.

IPL has been the most popular league in the cricketing world since its inception in 2008. The league has never dealt with the problem of getting sponsors due to its huge popularity. The cash-rich tournament has been watched all over the world and players are always eager to somehow be a part of it.

Looking at the anti-China sentiments, Vivo pulled out from the elite competition for this year. Now, the other Chinese brands like OPPO, Real Me, Xiaomi, Huawei, and Lenovo are also mulling the option of staying away from the league for sponsorship and on-air advertising. The anti-China chorus has been gaining momentum in India and such brands don’t want their brand value to get affected.

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