The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Stars count cash, sponsors runs
- Worried advertisers await next match

New Delhi/Mumbai, Feb. 17: In business, there’s a parameter to measure a company’s profitability: earnings per share (EPS). The higher the EPS, the greater the company’s profitability.

Applied in cricket, the concept throws up an intriguing indicator — earnings per run, or EPR. Turning corporate yardsticks of performance on their heads, a batsman who scores the fewest runs will have the highest EPR.

Indian cricketers may be in the red on the scorecard, but no questions about their high profitability. Take, for instance, Virender Sehwag. In two World Cup matches he has scored 10 runs while Hero Honda is paying him Rs 15 lakh for its advertisement being aired for the tournament. For each run scored he has earned Rs 1.5 lakh, which means he has an EPR of Rs 1.5 lakh. Every run he scores from now on can only bring down his EPR.

The high EPR has, however, left the sponsors — who have to watch their EPS — a worried lot. So worried that if they get the visa in time, a representative of a leading World Cup sponsor and the head of a sports management company will scurry to Harare to cheer up the Indian team in person before they face Zimbabwe on Wednesday.

Fans enraged by the team’s performance against Australia have already been talking about boycotting player-endorsed products.

Cola major Pepsi, one of the global sponsors of the World Cup, has splurged the most. “Pepsi spends about Rs 100 crore annually on advertising, of which 50 per cent is on cricket,” said a source. On the World Cup, it is spending about $26 million.

Pepsi has eight cricketers endorsing its cola: heading the list are Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar. With just 17 runs on the board so far, Sourav’s earning from Pepsi and Hero Honda alone is almost Rs 5 crore.

Hero Honda, another principal sponsor, has a commercial with a host of cricketers.

“The cricketers are making good money. Ganguly is being offered Rs 50-60 lakh while the other boys are getting Rs 15 lakh,” said a source.

LG, the other global sponsor, has lined up a set of 22 commercials on the “cricket first” theme where it features all the captains of the cricket teams, including Sourav, with host Ravi Shastri.

Of course, in terms of sheer numbers no one can beat Tendulkar, who endorses about a dozen brands.

Besides the ad bucks, a player makes decent sums by just getting into the side: Rs 2.25 lakh — and that excludes extras by way of overseas allowance — for a one-day match.

No one minds all this income when the going is good. Now, it’s the money the players make has become the target of fan fury.

“Sponsors are worried. Last night, a sponsor and I had a long conversation and decided that we should go to Harare to hold the players’ hands,” said the owner of a Mumbai-based sports and advertisement agency.

Other sponsors may not be booking tickets to Zimbabwe, but are keeping their fingers crossed that India does better. “Everyone is waiting and watching,” said Shailendra Singh of Percept D’Mark, the sports and entertainment company that handles several major sponsors of the World Cup.

“If the boys keep playing badly, certainly there will be major changes in sponsorship. But the industry is cold-blooded. If they now win two matches, everything will be instantly forgotten,” said Prahlad Kakar, the man behind the Pepsi ads.

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