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Cricket: Global sponsorship

Executive Summary

CRICKET SPONSORSHIP PASSES $400 MARK

Sponsorship of cricket is now worth slightly more than $400 million per year. The major rights holders are the Board of Control for Cricket India (BCCI), the International Cricket Council (ICC), the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Cricket Australia (CA). Between them, these governing bodies account for $227 million, more than half the total.

The governing bodies have the rights to the most valuable properties in the sport, namely international and domestic competitions. At club level, teams have not been developed as major brands in the same manner as soccer, NFL or baseball clubs have achieved. As a consequence, the sponsorship value of team rights still lags that of federations by a considerable degree.

With the introduction of the Indian Premier League (IPL), this situation is beginning to change and primary deals among the leading teams now exceed $4 million per year.

INDIA AND IPL DRIVING GROWTH

The driving force behind recent growth in the market is the commercialisation of cricket in India in general and the development of the IPL in particular. The IPL, a shortened, 20-over per side (known as ‘Twenty20’ or T20) format has also been introduced to all the major cricketing nations.

The rational for Twenty20 cricket is that being short, matches can be completed in a single evening and the method of play is to score runs quickly rather than eke out a large score over a much longer period. The game is, therefore, fast and exciting and has attracted new fans to attend cricket matches.

In terms of sponsorship, the format is attractive to companies seeking to engage with the increased cricket audiences and, being a completely new tier of the game, it adds to the cumulative sponsorship income in the sport.

SCANDAL AND CORRUPTION HOLDING CRICKET BACK

In recent years most of the major cricketing nations have suffered from controversial incidents and in some cases the unethical behaviour has come from the senior management of the game. Fraud, corruption, match-fixing, internal disputes and links to organised crime have left the reputation of the game damaged. In Pakistan cricket has suffered as a result of terrorist attacks meaning that the team cannot fulfil its home international fixtures within the country.

These are serious problems facing the sport and they are a major concern for sponsors who seek to associate themselves with sports that are free of negative publicity.

FORMATS AND BUSY CALENDARS

Twenty20 cricket is undoubtedly an exciting development in cricket, but it has created a problem in terms of the cricketing calendar. With the game still having an important long-format element, whether at domestic club or test match level, fitting new matches into the calendar is difficult. The IPL and the Champions League, both big money spinners, that attract the top players, have to fit into an already busy calendar. This has put particular pressure on one-day cricket and its raison d’etre is increasingly being questioned. The 50-over format has, for more than a generation, been the exciting short-form version of the sport, designed to appeal to the masses who don’t have either the time or the patience to follow test cricket. With the introduction of Twenty20, this need is, to an extent, filled.

From the point of view of the TV companies, a three-hour match can be more attractive as it doesn’t completely takeover the schedules for a day, although dedicated sports channels are not necessarily concerned because they need quality content to fill their schedules.

From the sponsors’ point of view, however, too many matches represent clutter and there is a particular problem with those events with lower profiles, which really struggle to stand out.

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