India news September 18, 2013

Airtel will not renew BCCI home series contract

ESPNcricinfo staff

The BCCI will begin the hunt for a new title sponsor after Bharti Airtel, the telecommunication company, decided not to renew its contract that expired on March 31. The BCCI's marketing committee will meet in Mumbai on Thursday for finalizing the invitation to tender document for getting in a new series sponsor for home fixtures.

Airtel, which had won the rights as series sponsors for all international and domestic matches played in India from September 1, 2010 to March 31, 2013 for a consideration of Rs 3.33 crore per match, had been given three months' grace period to renew its contract. However, since the company opted not to continue as the series sponsor, the BCCI's marketing committee - a 23-member panel headed by Farooq Abdullah - will finalise the tender document.

"Most of the terms and conditions, barring the base price, are likely to remain the same," a BCCI insider said. Besides the series title sponsorship, Airtel were also entitled for branding on stumps and fixed slots for in-stadia advertising. The base price for the 2010 document was Rs 2 crore per match and Airtel was the highest bidder among 10 prospective sponsors.

Airtel's decision to not extend its association may be seen as a setback for the BCCI's credibility in the wake of IPL spot-fixing scandal. However, a BCCI insider said Airtel's decision had nothing to do with the recent controversies in Indian cricket. In fact, he claimed that Airtel were preparing for a bigger association with Indian cricket. "Airtel have shown interest in bidding for the team title rights, like they had done in the past," he said. Efforts to contact Airtel were unsuccessful.

Airtel bid for series sponsorship after they lost out on the team's title sponsorship in July 2010. When the bid documents for the team's title sponsorship were opened for the period from July 1, 2010 to December 31, 2013, Sahara India Pariwar bagged the rights for the 42-month window at Rs 3.34 crore per match. Airtel, the other bidder, had quoted Rs 2.89 crore per match.

With Sahara embroiled in a stalemate with BCCI over its IPL team's ownership, Sahara have taken a stand that they would be interested in renewing their association with the national team only if N Srinivasan is removed as the BCCI president. However, with the BCCI leadership set to remain intact for another year, Airtel have been preparing to replace Sahara as the team's jersey sponsors.

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