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IPL brand’s big-innings prospects in doubt

IPL brand’s big-innings prospects in doubt


Brand valuation firm highlights accountability issues as title-sponsors offer solace


A leading brand valuation consultancy has expressed doubts about the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) ability to survive in the long run, given it’s share of controversies and the lack of “transparency and accountability” in its system.

While the company, Brand Finance, has valued IPL 6 at $3.3 billion (Dh12.11 billion), a substantial increase from $2.9 billion last year, their observation about the shortsightedness of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) almost has a prophetic ring about it. “Sweeping ethical infractions under the carpet is not an option. The lacunae in transparency and accountability in the IPL ecosystem which drives trust and alignment amongst stakeholders remains to be addressed in full measure and lies beneath the waters as a significant unmitigated risk,” they observed in a report on their website.

According to the firm’s estimates, the valuation of IPL — which was at it’s peak at $4.3 billion in 2010 — has seen a gradual dip since then despite the marginal increase this year. However, the spot-fixing allegations for two years on the trot, coupled with the disillusionment of one of the franchise owners (Sahara Group) is certainly not serving as a healthy advertisement for the product.

Pepsi, the soft drinks major that dished out approximately $72 million late last year to acquire the title sponsorship of IPL for five years, put up a brave face though and placed their faith in the BCCI for appropriate action.

“The matter is under investigation and we are confident that BCCI and the IPL governing council will take appropriate action. We believe in the spirit of fair play in sports and remain committed to the property,” a Pepsico India sportsperson told Gulf News. Ever since they entered the Indian markets in the early nineties along with international rivals Coca Cola, Pepsi have leveraged cricket — a passion in the sub-continent — for their brand-building. The biggest brands in the Indian team, starting from Sachin Tendulkar to Virat Kohli, have been brand ambassadors for the company.

Industry watchers hence felt it was a big boost for Brand IPL when they outbid other rivals to acquire the title rights, that too at an approximate hike of 50 per cent of what their predecessors DLF had paid. However, most of the sponsors of IPL are now casting a wary eye on the recent developments and hope that the imminent end of IPL 6 may help the storm blow over.

“The BCCI has certainly failed in taking the tournament to the next level. There was a possibility of some of the franchise owners issuing IPO to mobilise funds but nobody talks about it now while the board is also busy firefighting,” a senior franchise official said on conditions of anonymity.

It’s in this context that Brand Finance’s concluding remarks on IPL are significant: “Whilst all organisations go through highs and lows, the real question to be asked is one of sustainability and endurance. Is IPL able to rise to its higher calling and is it fit for the long run?”

By Gautam Bhattacharyya

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