The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sky blue’s out, boys to blaze in Nike blue
Indian wicketkeeper and Reebok brand ambassador Mahendra Singh Dhoni at a footwear launch in Mumbai on Friday. (PTI)

Mumbai, Dec. 23: The sports apparel war in India has got hotter with Nike signing a Rs 196.66-crore deal as the official kit supplier to the Indian cricket team.

From now, the players will sport a darker Nike blue instead of the tropical sky blue jersey.

Nike outbid sports merchandise giants Reebok, Adidas and Slazenger to claim place for its logo on the non-leading arm of the Indian cricket player.

The five-year deal comes into effect from January 1. The earlier contract was held by Sahara for only Rs 8.5 crore.

“The BCCI will now be adding value to its portfolio of marketable properties by adding an official kit supplier to the Indian team,” said Board of Control for Cricket vice-president Lalit Modi.

He added that “the BCCI is looking at exploring new sources of revenue and will soon open itself to product merchandising, ground sponsorship and other licensing as part of its strategy to market the game”.

The jump in the value shows Nike’s keenness for aggressive play in the Indian sports apparel market.

“Nike’s India strategy was depending on this bid. So we decided to win this contract and we did not let money become an impediment for this. We see the branded sports apparel sector in India growing in a big way and wanted to go for the kill,” said a Nike official involved with the contract.

The deal will give Nike the rights to sell the official cricket merchandise at its retail outlets across the country.

“We look forward to working with the Indian team and creating the best performance products for the players,” said Peter Bratschi, Nike’s sports marketing director for the Asia-Pacific.

As sponsors of the Indian cricket team’s official kit, Nike will be the second-most important sponsor for the cricket team after Sahara, which recently entered into a Rs 313-crore contract with the BCCI to stay on as official sponsor for four more years.

The deal gives Sahara the right to place its logo on the chest and leading arm of the players.

The Sahara and the Nike contracts alone make the BCCI the world’s most valued brand in team sponsorship (see box) and also the richest cricket board in the world.

“England, for example, has a four-year sponsorship deal with Vodafone, thought to be worth '15 million. The West Indies Cricket Board, recently clinched the biggest deal in their history with Digicel for '10.5 million. The BCCI is worth more than them put together, about '65 million,” said a board functionary who did not want to be named.

The cricket board is now in the process of inviting bids for ground sponsorship that will allow a company to place its logo on the wicket and the insignia to be painted on the field.

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