Besides finalising the operational issues with regard to moving the Indian Premier League (IPL) entourage to United Arab Emirates in the wake of the pandemic, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has been forced in another corner with the IPL title sponsor set to end its association with the T20 league.
In the midst of the border tension with China, Vivo - a Chinese mobile phone manufacturer - and the BCCI have been on the verge of invoking force majeure and mutually agree to end its five-season contract with three editions remaining.
Sportstar understands that key BCCI office-bearers - president Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah - had a conference call with Vivo representatives along with IPL chairman Brijesh Patel in attendance on Tuesday. Both the parties are understood to have agreed to amicably terminate the agreement.
Interestingly, the BCCI had refrained from revisiting the IPL sponsorship deal during Sunday’s Governing Council. It was followed with an outrage with a few nationalistic organisations lashing out at the BCCI. However, a BCCI insider revealed that Monday’s meeting was a fallout of Vivo’s demand to renegotiate the deal.
“They had reached out to the president and the secretary a while ago and sought revision of the deal citing prevailing market condition and public sentiment. Since they were demanding a substantial reduction in sponsorship amount for the 2020 edition, it was mutually decided to look at options,” said a BCCI insider.
If force majeure is invoked, it could absolve both parties from compensating the other for premature termination of the deal.
It is learnt that Vivo wanted “at least 30 per cent reduction” in the amount for the forthcoming edition, to be played in UAE from September 19 to November 10. In 2018, Vivo signed a five-edition deal worth Rs. 2,199 crore (approx. Rs. 440 crore per year) as title sponsor.
While no one from the BCCI was available for an official comment, a Vivo India spokeperson said the company is “not commenting on the matter yet”.
Fresh tender for IPL 2020?
With time running out, it is expected that a formal announcement about separation will be made “very soon”, so that the BCCI can invite fresh bids “only for the 2020 edition”. Should the market conditions and Indo-Sino relationships continue, Vivo can explore bidding for the next rights cycle ahead of the 2021 edition.
However, the BCCI understands that with the pandemic having dented global economy, market interest will be far lesser for sponsoring the forthcoming edition. It is understood that a business conglomerate with close ties to an IPL franchise may explore to extend its association with IPL.
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