?Your favourite Indian cricket stars will don a new brand logo from January 1, with Star India winning the bid for the team’s sponsorship rights for Rs 1.92 crore a match, a drop of 40 per cent from Rs 3.34 crore a match that Sahara, the current sponsor, is paying. Star India Chief Operating Officer Sanjay Gupta said: “We have bought this sports asset to use as a tool for marketing our various brands. We have a portfolio of brands from Star Plus, Ok, Star Cricket, etc, and we will use this asset when we need to push any of these brands. Of course, we will need some time, as the jerseys will have to be printed by Nike. We have been buoyed by our experience of being a ground sponsor for IPL; that has, for instance, helped us market the Star Plus brand name. But the decision to grant the rights for three years was not without its fair share of controversies, as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) decided to reject a bid made by Sahara India, ending the 12-year association of the brand with the men in blue. Sahara on Monday surprised everybody by making the highest bid of Rs 2.35 crore a match, after publicly saying earlier it would not bid for the contract again. However, BCCI termed Sahara “not eligible” and gave the contract, instead, to the only other bidder, STAR. Predictably, Sahara cried foul over BCCI rejecting its bid, “the highest”. Abhijit Sarkar, head of corporate communications at Sahara, said the group had changed its mind on request from some Indian cricketers and board officials. “Our chairman then said, yes. We picked up the bid documents but they did not tell us in advance they were not going to consider us. They have cited the dispute we have with them over termination of our franchise of the Pune Warriors IPL team. If that was the case, they should not have taken money from us for the sponsorship from June to December.” STAR India’s bid price was 28 per cent higher than the base price for the auction, which was dramatically reduced to only Rs 1.5 crore. STAR has agreed to fork out Rs 203 crore for official sponsorship rights for all BCCI, International Cricket Council and Asian Cricket Council events during the contract period.
The move by STAR represents its new strategy to extend its association with cricket beyond broadcasting rights. STAR has committed itself to investing Rs 17,000 crore in cricket till 2018; this includes about Rs 5,000 crore directly related to matches in India. This will be for exclusive media rights for all international matches played by the Indian team in the country, as well as the title sponsorship rights for the 2013-14 season.Besides, STAR India has also taken the associate on-ground sponsorship for the Indian Premier League for Rs 100 crore for three years. Gautam Rai, one of the members of BCCI, said it was decided that Sahara’s bid would not be accepted, as the group had filed litigation against BCCI.A total of seven companies had earlier bought the tender forms. Apart from STAR and Sahara, the others in race were television channel network, Multi Screen Media, Vijay Mallya’s UB Group and three sports management companies — World Sports Group, Twenty First Century Fox Media and Gaames Unlimited.