Despite the uncertainty in commencing the cash-rich T20 tournament and following calls to boycott Chinese product after the stand-off in the Galwan Valley a couple of days ago, Chinese smartphone manufacturers Vivo will continue to be major sponsors of the Indian Premier League (IPL), according to the body’s top official. VIVO bagged the IPL title rights in 2017 for a period of five years.
“The contract was signed by our predecessors. It’s a five-year deal and will continue,” said the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) treasurer Arun Dhumal. “As far as anti-China sentiment is concerned, I am all for ban on Chinese products. For me personally, and BCCI as an organisation, the country comes first.” The company brought the deal for a record ₹2,199 crore (US$288 million).
Dhumal argued that “till the time a Chinese company is allowed to sell their product and make money from the Indian consumer, why should that money (sponsorship) be allowed to go out of India”. Vivo’s contract, coupled with Star India’s five-year media rights deal worth Rs 16,347 crore, make IPL the most rewarding T20 competition in the world.
However, the treasurer clarified that the Board is open to review its sponsorship policy for the next cycle. “Whenever the next cycle comes, we will take decisions in the best interest of the country and not BCCI. That will be the focus,” Dhumal said. Vivo was awarded the title sponsorship at a time the BCCI was run by the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators.
The cash-rich Twenty20 competition, due to begin on March 29 and pushed back to April 15, was postponed indefinitely in April due to the ongoing threats of the coronavirus pandemic. According to reports, the BCCI has spoken to all the franchises, media partners and other stakeholders of IPL and came up as September 26 to November 8 as the window to host the lucrative cricket league.
However, the dates are subject to change and cancellation depending on International Cricket Council (ICC) and the expected postponement of Twenty20 World Cup in Australia. Earlier this week, Cricket Australia (CA) chairman Carl Eddings claimed that hosting the showpiece event this year ‘unrealistic’ despite the country looks good to host the event in October following the successful COVID-19 handling.
Previously, the BCCI president Sourav Ganguly, in a letter to state associations and stakeholders, said that the governing body “is working on all possible options to ensure that we are able to stage the IPL this year, even if it means playing the tournament in empty stadiums”. He said that they are “optimistic” about the return of cricket as the governing “will shortly decide on the future course of action on this”.
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