The India Premier League (IPL) is heading overseas for a third time, leaving behind some disgruntled fans thanks to a decision to stick with its current sponsors.
The IPL Governing Council of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has confirmed the tournament will take place in the United Arab Emirates between September 19 and November 10. It has also opted to retain its sponsors, including the title sponsor, Chinese smartphone brand Vivo.
Anti-China sentiment has been growing following a recent border clash and the Indian government banning 59 Chinese apps, alleging they pose a threat to the nation’s sovereignty and security.
While many fans will welcome the return of live cricket, by keeping Vivo, the BCCI now finds itself under fire from certain quarters. The Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) that was at the forefront of a campaign to boycott Chinese goods, has said Indians should consider a boycott of the event, while the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has demanded the government deny permission for the event to take place.
But the possible involvement of a leading Indian brand could help change the optics: Tata Medical and Diagnostics, describing IPL 2020 as an “inflection point for global sport in the post-Covid world”, has offered to partner with the IPL to create a bio-secure bubble to ensure the safety of all participants, from teams to media.
Brand Equity reported that many IPL franchises and stakeholders have welcomed this approach, saying “it’ll be very good if this happens because a reputed Indian company will bring a lot of credibility to the league”.
The timing of the rescheduled tournament could also be a factor in creating goodwill, with the final due to take place during Diwali week, “which should augur well for brands and broadcaster Star India,” noted IndianTelevision.
Meanwhile, the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) has also chosen this moment to invite bids for cricket team kit sponsorship and official merchandising partner rights; the existing deal with Nike – kit sponsor for the past 14 years – comes to an end next month.
Sourced from Brand Equity, IndiaTelevision.com, Business Today, Hindustan Times, Firstpost; additional content by WARC staff