India: The Stick Has Got The Carrot

Last Updated: 27 June 2011
Article by Desh Gaurav Sekhri

Originally published in the Financial Express, August 11th 2009.

Last week, Hero Honda was announced as the title sponsor of the Hockey World Cup. This could be the beginning of a big change in India's sports industry. The separation between cricket and others may finally get reduced.

Hero Honda, a widely respected industry leader synonymous with sponsoring sporting events and athletes and doing this perhaps more consistently than any other corporate house, also didn't close the option of sponsoring the Indian hockey team open. So, the demonstration effect could be even bigger over the next few months. There are financial benefits for sponsors and, from a legal standpoint, it is simply easier to maneuver contract negotiations to one's favor when dealing with sports other than cricket.

True, Bharti's suspension of the Rs 1bn soccer project was a huge setback, especially for a sport that has languished for long. This bad news was tempered by reports that many soccer clubs from the European leagues were trying to make inroads into the Indian scenario. Plus, many Indian clubs are looking to collaborate with the AIFF-driven I-league, to make soccer a professional corporate sport in India. The World Series of Boxing, another first for India (one of the hosts), will be sponsored by Videocon and is expected to be successful. The Badminton World Championships in Hyderabad are also being held for the first time in India, and are sponsored by Yonex Sunrise in what is expected to be the biggest badminton event ever in India, never mind the fretful English who have withdrawn.

In what could one day be a launch for the ages, the NBA is set to enter India, although its short- term plans have not been discussed publicly as of now. As the world's third largest sports league, its presence could shake up the Indian sports industry in unprecedented ways. To add to this, India's bid for the 2019 Asian Games has been announced and an Olympics bid is most definitely on the cards, especially if the Commonwealth Games 2010 are a success. The broadcasting rights for the CWG 2010 have attracted bids from established players like Nimbus, Reliance Big and TWI, in what is likely to be a multi-million dollar deal.

Many Indian investors are looking at opportunities to sponsor teams, leagues, or events abroad, with Bharti being the first Indian entity to sponsor an EPL team (Man U), in a multi-year, multi-million dollar deal. This is a trend that is likely to grow and the reasons for this, at least in the short term, are simple. Sophisticated branding, signage, advertising, IPR allocation & enforcement, global exposure, widening the target audience and potential customer base, and media attention make this a lucrative investment forum. Over time of course, this trend will be reversed. But at present it seems a safer bet, although with the creation of more properties, and the attention being given to emerging, reincarnated, and existing sports, inward-looking strategies are likely to pay far greater dividends than just traditional or international avenues.

With the growth of emerging sports and the consequent investment in them, one might wonder if cricket and its stakeholders have reason to be perturbed. From a rational standpoint, there is definitely cause for concern. However, there are two things that must be considered when analysing the developments across sports in India today. First, while the economic downturn shifted the focus to the IPL and T20 World Cup, and how the two events would weather the storm, what it also did was temporarily stem the tide that was beginning to sweep the Indian sports landscape. In many ways, the investment in sports today is a continuation of what 10-12 months ago was a foregone conclusion. Therefore, today's developments are hardly a complete surprise for most industry insiders.

The second fundamental difference is that while for decades the sports pie would have been baked with a filling consisting almost entirely of cricket, today we have two pies that are vying for the attention of the sports-savvy investor, with emerging sports constituting the bulk of the competitor's substance. Slice it as one would, there are extremely limited opportunities within cricket today, for any would-be investor. Most contracts that any potential sponsors enter into with cricket's governing body, or with the IPL, are extremely skewed towards the latter. Due to the excess demand for cricket opportunities, with limited supply of such opportunities, this would have been somewhat expected. However, with viable, lucrative, and expanding opportunities in other sports, the sponsors are on much stronger footing both financially and legally. Investors in these sports are able to create, brand, leverage and enforce their ownership, IPRs, and licenses, and contractually take firm control of their projects.

While cricket will remain a coveted avenue, forays into other sports by investors like Hero Honda and Videocon are also here to stay. Sound business tactics are consistent across industries, and sport is nascent but dynamic enough to muster the support and enthusiasm that makes the industry one of the most lucrative globally. Competition is healthy and much-needed in the Indian sports context. Level the playing field, and open the floodgates.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
JSA Advocates & Solicitors
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
JSA Advocates & Solicitors
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions