Cricket Players unhappy with IPL contracts

Ever wondered how come Sachin Tendulkar is endorsing Luminous inverters or Zandu balm? These are not quite the brands you associate with somebdoy who normally charges 6-8 crore per brand endorsement.

So Sachin comes a bit cheap these days because as part of his IPL contract with Mumbai Indians he also has to endorse the brands, which sponsor his team. No wonder then that the players are feeling a bit short changed.

“The IPL contracts are technically supposed to be only for the duration of the IPL. There still is a conflict of interest. The main sponsors who are sponsoring the players, there is a PEPSI situation and there is a COKE at the IPL. Definitely they are feeling the pinch and this will manifest itself during the time of the renewal, the value assessment of what someone brings to the table and how IPL contradicts this value. I think there will be issues like this and I think they will be detrimental to the interest of the player,” said Latika Khaneja, Managing Director of Collage Sports and Virender Sehwag’s manager.

NDTV has access to a player’s contract with the IPL and it’s not surprising why the players were initially reluctant to sign.

The contract specifies that every player has to commit to at least 10 appearances for the sponsors of his IPL team and each of these appearances could last up to 8 hours. All this is in addition to the days they spend playing cricket for their IPL teams. But the big boss of the IPL says there is enough protection for the players’ interests as well, such as the fact that the brand has to use at least three members of the team in an ad campaign rather than trying to latch on to just one big name.

“They always knew what they were getting into. Players need to realise that IPL is a tournament where they get large sum of money; they need to be a part of the team and put their personal endorsements aside. They have to play with the team and work with the team. All the players around the world are happy to do so,” IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi said.

In Indian cricket ambush marketing have always caused problems and the IPL is no different. So Ishant Sharma and Virender Sehwag are with Pepsi but have to endorse rival brands coke and sprite because of their IPL teams.

“Well, there is no clash at all. This is standard system of business in sports and sponsorships all over the world. There is a personal endorsement and there is a team sponsorship arrangement this is practiced not only in cricket but in other sports as well. It is just one way of connecting with the fans.

“The needs of a franchise is slightly different from that of the national team, so this is just a marketing initiative where you want to reach out to the supporters and get more and more people involved with the franchise. I think what we are seeing is a major transformation in terms of how teams are promoted, how cricket is promoted, how matches and events are organised on a different scale.”

“There have been many changes because of the IPL. Where did you ever see a match being promoted as Sachin Vs Sehwag or Sehwag Vs Ganguly? A cricket match was a cricket match. These are changing times; the IPL is a commercially driven tournament. So you will see all kind of innovation. I do not think it reduces their profile or compromises their position in anyway. They are stars and will always remain stars and they do motivate and influence fans. So this is just one way of using their power to get to people,” Amrit Marthur, Delhi Daredevils CEO said.

But for the players it’s not just a question of whether their brand value is getting diluted, it’s also about getting a bigger share of the pie. Now that the IPL is officially listed as the sixth most valuable sports property in the world at about 8000 crore, the next set of player contracts in 2011 will certainly go through the roof.

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