Indian firms which are among the lead sponsors for tournaments run by the International Cricket Council (ICC) are likely to pressure the game’s governing body to hold the Champions Trophy in India in 2006 as scheduled.
“The Champions Trophy is the only big ticket ICC event to be played in India in the coming four years, and when we signed the deal with ICC in 2002, the staging of the tournament in India was a vital consideration,” said Salil Kapoor, head (marketing), LG Electronics India.
Last Week, ICC chairman Ehsan Mani had said that the Champions Trophy could be shifted to Pakistan if the Indian government refused to provide tax concessions.
He added that heavy taxation in the form of the state entertainment tax was an impediment towards allowing India to host big tournaments like the World Cup, even in the future.
According to Kapoor, LG and other sponsors would hold negotiations with the ICC to stage the tournament in India.
Indian companies and Indian subsidiaries of large multinationals like Hero Honda, LG, PepsiCo and Hutch are some of the official sponsors which have signed a five-year deal worth $550 million with the ICC.
“Holding the event in India would allow the sponsors to run promotional campaigns and drive sales at a much larger scale. LG had planned a massive promotional exercise built around the tournament,” Kapoor said.
With the ambush marketing clauses put in place, which prevent players from endorsing rival brands for nearly a month leading up to an ICC event, the official sponsors stand to get better visibility.
A Hero Honda official, too, said the matter would be taken up with the ICC.
“A multi-nation cricket tournament such as the Champions Trophy allows us to do fully utilise the popularity of our cricketing brand ambassadors on a sustained basis,” said the Hero Honda official.
The company’s cricketing endorsers include skipper Sourav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh.
The last time India hosted a major tournament was the World Cup in 1996, along with Pakistan and Sri Lanka. And some of the tax issues from that tournament have still not been resolved with the Indian government.