Like most things in the world, the COVID-19 outbreak has made cricket sink in a treacherously cold ocean. The cricket grounds are empty and the men's T20 World Cup has been postponed to 2021. Also, the much-awaited, Indian Premier League season 13 is in a maze.
Postponed from late March due to the current pandemic, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) managed a window to host the IPL 2020 from September 19 to November 10 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Indian board is facing another hurdle in organising the IPL, as amid the stand-offs between India and China, the Chinese smartphone manufacturer Vivo backed out from title sponsorship for 2020 edition.
In 2018, Vivo won the title sponsorship rights of IPL for five years till 2022 for a reported amount of approximately Rs 2,190 crore. The anti-China sentiments began surfacing due to the origin of the COVID-19, the feelings intensified since the Galwan conflict. However, the IPL's governing council announced that it would continue with the sponsors connected with China. This year led to the BCCI and the cash-rich league facing severe backlash from political leaders, organisations and trade unions. Taking the sentiments into account, Vivo decided to back out this season.
The BCCI has planned to invite bidders as the new title sponsor for this year's IPL. As BCCI is heeding the new bids, Coke India and Byju's are reportedly the companies that do not want to miss the boat. Reportedly, e-commerce giant Amazon is also in the race of title sponsorship along with the telecom and internet giants Reliance Jio. However, the sponsor would sign the deal for just this year as Vivo, which has agreed to pay Rs 440 crore per annum for the five-year deal, might return as the sponsor next year based on the Sino-India relationship.
These are a few companies that the BCCI might consider giving the title sponsorship of IPL 2020 to.
Byju's, an online education company, replaced Oppo as the new shirt sponsor of the Indian Cricket Team in July 2019. Reportedly, Byju's has kept aside Rs 300 crore eyeing the sponsorship deal. Shah Rukh Khan, the co-owner of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) is also the brand ambassador for the online education company. In March 2020, the company became the team sponsor for KKR replacing Nokia. However, the ed-tech company has refused to make a statement on its IPL plans.
Coca-Cola is also padding up for sponsoring the IPL title for the 2020 edition. Coca-Cola, a soft drink beverage, bestride cricket to stir their engagement with fans. They expressed their desire to stay invested in cricket. The ardent fans, of course, remember the Coca Cola cup, the tri-nation series played in the 90s and early 2000s that would often feature India. Sachin Tendulkar's desert storm knocks in 1998 came against Australia in consecutive matches at Sharjah in the April edition of the Coca-Cola Cup. They also caught the subcontinent's imagination by becoming the official drinks sponsors of the 1996 World Cup, hosted in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
With Vivo pulling itself out of the IPL and making room for fresh bids, Coca-cola enjoys the best of both worlds.
In 2018 Star India, the official broadcaster for IPL sold 90 per cent of its on-air media inventory by signing 80 brand sponsorship deals including Amazon. There are high chances that Amazon would want to win the IPL title sponsorship bid as the matches coincide with the festive season. It would be an opportunity to be visible on the entire IPL, which would be golden considering the festive session. Reportedly, it would be the best chance for online firms to advertise and make a splash for flagship sales in October.
IPL and Jio are quite inseparable. The telecom giant's parent body owns the Mumbai Indians team, the most successful franchise with four titles in the IPL. Reliance Jio has hit the headlines for all good reasons during the pandemic, raising money by selling stakes to several global giants.
The telecommunication player in India, right now with prior experience in the franchise-based league can become the title sponsor for the IPL 2020. Also, Reliance has been the force behind the Indian Super League (ISL), the country's premier football league. Jio and BCCI have already started to converse on the sponsorship. Jio is one of the biggest fish racing for it.
As the exit of Vivo created several speculations among the fans, BCCI in the next few days might hold the bidding session to give the sponsorship rights for the 13th edition of IPL to a new entity.
With Indian cricket and its unpredictability, you never know we might be up for a surprise with an unexpectant entrant.