BCCI Sponsorship Controversy Reflects Shaky Economic Situation
The Board of Control for Cricket in India awarding its team sponsorship rights for the next three years "both reflects the current shaky economic situation as well as the sports body's penchant to court controversy," according to N. Ananthanarayanan of the HINDUSTAN TIMES. The BCCI "sold the rights to its broadcast partner," Star India, with the successful bid worth a reported Rs. 203 crore ($33M). However, the decision has again "raised allegations of arbitrariness" by the board after the Sahara Group, the current shirt sponsors at Rs. 3.34 crore ($547,000) per match, whose deal runs until the end of December, was left seething. Sahara alleged the process was "stage-managed" to leave Star as the only bidder despite Sahara's bid worth about Rs. 253 crore ($41M). The sharp decline in value "seems to reflect the economic slowdown as well as a reassessment of the team's value by marketing groups since the retirement of Sachin Tendulkar." Probably anticipating a dip, "the board had brought down the base price for the shirt sponsorship" to Rs. 1.5 crore ($246,000) per match. Sahara Corporate Communications Head Abhijit Sarkar said, "When we asked why we were not told earlier, the board's legal representative didn't have an answer." BCCI President N. Srinivasan then told Sahara that "its views have been heard but the decision would stand." If that is the case, "the BCCI should have asked Sahara to pull out as team sponsors when the IPL row erupted in May," but Sarkar feels the BCCI "did not act earlier as it was not sure" it could find a sponsor (HINDUSTAN TIMES, 12/10).