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IPL 2020: Chinese smartphone brand VIVO pulls out as IPL title sponsor for this season, claim reports

New Delhi, August 4: In the wake of rising anti-China sentiments in the country, Indian Premier League (IPL) title sponsor VIVO is likely to pull out of the sponsorship for this year. The IPL will be held in the UAE from September 19 to November 10 this year.

The border tensions between the two neighbouring countries have fanned the anti-China sentiments across the country and voices were growing that the IPL should also sever its ties with VIVO - which is also a Chinese smartphone company. The central government had also banned a whole host of Chinese apps.

As per a Times of India report, the Chinese smartphone brand is planning to back out of the IPL, at least for this year. The report further claimed that the BCCI has conveyed about the same to all the IPL franchises on Monday (August 3) evening.

The one-year pullout could be treated as a moratorium period and if the relations improve, BCCI may look at inking a fresh three-year deal with the company from 2021 to 2023 on revised terms.

"Yes, the discussions are on between BCCI office-bearers (president Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah) with the representatives of the company. There is a possibility that Vivo will not be title sponsors for one year," a senior BCCI official told PTI on conditions of anonymity.

Meanwhile, sports journalist Vikrant Gupta tweeted: "VIVO won't be the IPL sponsor this year. They will be back in 2021 and continue till 2023. The IPL will have a new sponsor this edition IPL."

This development has certainly put BCCI, as well as the franchises, in panic mode as they'll have to look for a new title sponsor for this season.

While the IPL Governing Council on Sunday retained all the sponsors, including Vivo which annually pays Rs 440 crore (approximately) as part of a five-year deal lasting till 2022, there is a strong possibility that the company might part ways for a year. The Board official PTI spoke to said that whenever a decision is taken, it will be amicable and the BCCI is not looking at encashing the bank guarantee.

The BCCI last week announced that the IPL 2020 will be held in UAE from September 19 to November 10. The governing body on Monday also stated all the sponsors, including VIVO, who are currently onboard will continue for this edition too. But several voices have been raised against having VIVO as the title sponsor in the wake of the present stand-off. The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has written to Home Minister Amit Shah and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, expressing their protest against BCCI's decision.

VIVO India had won the IPL title sponsorship rights for five years in 2017 for a whopping sum of Rs 2199 crore. The Chinese mobile-manufacturer committed to pay the league approximately Rs 440 crore every season.

"In different circumstances, if the sponsors don't keep a commitment, BCCI can encash the bank guarantee which it had earlier done in case of errant franchises. But here, both parties are looking at an amicable escape route," the official said.

There were questions raised on the BCCI's decision to retain Chinese sponsors even as the union government banned close to 60 Chinese apps and social media platforms. "These are sensitive times and need a cautious approach. Once you had said that you will review sponsorship and then did nothing about it, would raise a question mark over your intent on dealing with the Chinese companies," the official said.

The BCCI is already in talks with a couple of Indian companies who are believed to be interested in a short-term sponsorship deal -- one year period. "It will be difficult to make up the full amount (Rs 440 crore) in such a short time with the tournament being held overseas. Also, there won't be much traction in an empty stadium. But we will come to that once VIVO officially quits," he said.

(With PTI inputs)

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Story first published: Tuesday, August 4, 2020, 17:08 [IST]
Other articles published on Aug 4, 2020