Patanjali may sponsor IPL 2020

Baba Ramdev-led Patanjali Ayurved has submitted a proposal for the title sponsorship of the Indian Premier League’s upcoming edition, to be held in the UAE from Sept 19 to Nov 8, two company executives said on Monday. The FMCG major has expressed interest after Chinese smartphone maker Vivo’s Indian arm last week suspended sponsorship for the year amid bilateral political tension. Vivo signed a R2,200 crore five-year deal in 2017.

SK Tijariwala, spokesman for Ramdev, said the company felt acquiring the title sponsorship would significantly expand the market of the company. He added that nothing has been “finalised yet”.

BCCI issued an expression of interest (EOI) for the title sponsorship on Monday, with a precondition that the interested third party must have a turnover of R300 crores or more as per their last audited accounts. While there was no mention of any reserve prize set for the sponsorship, it is learnt BCCI are willing to accept as low as 50 % of the value Vivo India paid (R440 crore/annum) due to the urgency of the situation.

BCCI’s statement on Aug 6 said Vivo’s sponsorship suspension was a joint decision. A board official though said “the prevailing anti-China sentiment made the co-existence very difficult for both parties”. The official refused to comment on Patanjali’s expression of interest, but said “if any home-grown company comes in, it will only help the league this year, forced to go overseas due to the pandemic”.

Vivo stepped back as the title sponsor at a time when anti-China sentiment is running high in India. The government has banned Chinese apps, placed stringent restrictions on Chinese investments, and is reviewing partnerships Indian educational institutions have with Chinese counterparts. Tension between the neighbours is high along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh where a scrap between the two armies resulted in the death of 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese ones.

An associate of Patanjali Ayurved chief Balkrishan, who did not wish to be identified, said: “Post-Doklam skirmish, there is mass resentment against China which is reflected in people and consumers boycotting Chinese products. Patanjali has been synonymous with indigenous, healthy products and we hope youth in particular will get associated with us as IPL viewership is staggering.”

“If Patanjali sponsors IPL, we do hope cricket infrastructure and the game as a whole in Uttarakhand will also get a boost,” said a Haridwar cricket official, Inder Mohan Barthwal.

Marketing experts following the development say Patanjali will be a strong contender but that the Tata Group, which is one of the three associate sponsors of the IPL, has also expressed interest for the title sponsorship. The Tata Group has also reportedly offered to create the bio-secure bubble for IPL in the UAE, but declined to comment on the issue when contacted.

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