Air Sahara wins cricket team sponsorship To shell out Rs 313.80 cr for 4-year period

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Mr Lalit Modi, Vice-President, BCCI, at a press conference in the Capital on Monday. - Ramesh Sharma
Mr Lalit Modi, Vice-President, BCCI, at a press conference in the Capital on Monday. - Ramesh Sharma

Our Bureau

New Delhi, Dec. 19

THE Indian cricket squad will now wear the logo of Air Sahara on its shirt after the company emerged as the highest bidder for team sponsorship, coughing up Rs 313.80 crore for a four-year period.

From just Rs 78.10 crore that the Sahara Group paid last time round, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has managed to almost quadruple its revenues from team sponsorship.

According to Mr Lalit Modi, Vice-President, BCCI, "The Marketing Committee of the BCCI will formally approve the decision tomorrow. The team sponsor will be able to brand the chest and leading arm of the player's shirt."

About 12 companies purchased the bid documents while six - IndianOil, Hero Honda, Reliance Infocomm, Air Sahara, Idea and Airtel qualified. Amongst these, Hero Honda did not participate in the final bidding. According to information available, after Air Sahara, Idea was the next highest bidder offering to pay Rs 286 crore, followed by Reliance Infocomm (Rs 257 crore), IndianOil (Rs 255.9 crore) and Airtel (Rs 251 crore).

Mr Modi said the floor price for sponsoring a test match had been fixed at Rs 1 crore and Rs 90 lakh for each one-day international (ODI). It is estimated that there would be at least 44 tests and 110 ODIs played in the next four years. "About 50 more days may be added to this itinerary and we could generate more revenues," he added.

When questioned about the possibility of Air Sahara divesting its stake, Mr Modi said, "We are very comfortable with the decision. Although it is Air Sahara, it is with the backing of the Sahara group. We have all the bank guarantees."

Calling the bidding process fair, Mr Modi said that two officials from Cricket Australia were present as observers. Besides this, bids for team kit and apparel would be finalised soon and the Board will also be called for branding of the non-leading arm shortly. Air Sahara officials declined to comment on the deal, as the company had not received a formal letter from the cricket board.

Telecast Rights: The Board will invite tenders for telecast rights by the end of this month and is likely to finalise a deal by the middle of January.

Mr Modi said that there is need for more clarity on the telecast rights issues that has become a major controversy. Last week, the Board informed the Delhi High Court its intentions of calling for fresh tenders. Responding to the letters written by the International Cricket Council against mandatory sharing of cricket rights with Doordarshan, Mr Modi said that the Board is not opposed to this decision.

"We are happy... as we are getting more eyeballs through this," he said while hoping that this does not hurt the bidding amounts.

Related Stories:
BCCI pitches for revenue play Drive to focus on telecast rights, sponsorships, merchandise licensing

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated December 20, 2005)
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