New Delhi:The ICC or the International Cricket Council has announced its sponsors for the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa just 13 days before the event - a clear indication one would think that sponsors were hard to find.
But thats not how the ICC sees it. They put on a brave face on Wednesday saying that cricket still sells even if India does badly at the World Cup. But the timing of the announcement suggests otherwise.
The ICC apparently had all its global sponsors for 2007 to 20015 tied up before the completion of the world cup but were waiting for the event to finish before signing on the dotted line.
What happened after that is as they say history and since then the governing body of cricket worldwide has struggled to find sponsors willing to pay the kind of money they want.
So India's first round exit at the World Cup seems to have cost world cricket. But that's not the line the ICC is taking.
"I don't think there is a significant connection between the success of the Indian team and ICC sponsorships, I think it is important for World Cricket that the Indian team does well.
"No other sport has the advantage that Cricket has of having 1/5ths of the worlds population passionate about their game to the extent of perhaps twenty times of the next game in these countries. That's a great advantage for it and we work very hard to make sure that its reflected in the commercial deals that we do," said Malcolm Speed, Chief Executive Officer, ICC.
Out of the four global sponsors that ICC had for the last seven years, only Pepsi have extended their deal while Reliance Communications is the new kid on the block.
But with a paucity of sponsors willing to sign up for the entire seven-year period, the ICC has taken on Nokia and real estate company Emaar for just the Twenty20 World Cup.
So on the face of it the money looks impressive and as much as Rs 700 crores already in the kitty whereas the four global sponsors had paid about Rs 360 crores for the last seven years which was from 2000-2007.
However there should have been a lot more money flowing in. For example ICC's TV rights deal, which was signed before the disastrous World Cup in West Indies was worth Rs 1.1 billion approximately, double the figure from the last seven-year deal.
Plus with an additional 10 events, totaling 18 compared to 8 from the previous seven-year term, the ICC should have seen a much sharper rise in earnings.
This time around its believed the sponsors will get more bang for their buck with more protection in terms of ambush marketing from rival brands.
"The Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group caters to one in ten Indians every day. Any mass platform is exciting for us. So cricket was an obvious consideration for us," said Sanjay Behl, Head of Brand & Marketing, Reliance Communications.
So cricket always sells with the sponsors. But clearly, it can't fetch the right price unless India's stock is rising. And that does not seem to be the case right now especially since just three Indians have been nominated in the men's category for the ICC awards.