Uday Shankar, chairman and chief executive of Star India, has confirmed that the media group will not be extending its sponsorship of the national cricket team.
Speaking to the Times of India newspaper, Shankar cited ongoing certainty surrounding the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s relationship with the International Cricket Council as a reason for not bidding to retain shirt sponsorship rights with the national team.
Earlier this month, it was announced that the ICC will review its membership model after agreeing “in principle” to reverse a move to put the BCCI, Cricket Australia and the England and Wales Cricket Board in charge of the game’s administration.
The ICC will make a final decision on a new financial and governance structure at a meeting in April. Star's partnership with the BCCI is due to expire in March and Shankar has revealed that the company will not be renewing the deal while the future of the body’s standing within the game remains unclear.
“Given all the volatility, we are indeed concerned about the health of cricket in the days ahead,” Shankar told the Times of India. “No one seems to be talking about making cricket bigger and more popular. We have been very proud that our name is carried on the jersey of Team India. But given all the uncertainties, we have decided not to bid for it again. The commitments being asked for are too onerous without any clarity.”
He added: “For us, the problem is, right now we do not see a consensual leadership in cricket. The power of cricket came from the fact that everybody was aligned. The global cricket leadership was generally aligned to drive it forward. The alignment seems to have broken down. Lack of clarity both, in ICC as well as BCCI is our biggest concern right now.
“We have nothing to do with the politics of cricket. Currently we have invested in cricket more than any other media company has ever done. Our investments in the game are to the tune of a few billion dollars. And hence the business risk for us is very very high.”
In December 2013, the BCCI awarded the sponsorship rights to the national team for the period spanning January 1, 2014 through March 2017 to Star India – a move that further strengthened the media group’s presence in Indian cricket.
The deal, which encompasses rights to all BCCI, Asian Cricket Council and ICC events, is reportedly worth Rs19.2m (€270,000/$287,000) per game. Star’s role as official team sponsor includes the ability to display a commercial logo on the kit of the senior men’s team, the U-19 men’s team, the men’s A-team and the women’s team.
Star also holds multi-platform media rights to Indian cricket until 2018.