On Thursday, the BCCI confirmed that Vivo will not be the title sponsor for this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL). The competition is set to take place in UAE from September 19 to November 10.

The BCCI sent out a one-line statement regarding the same without giving any details.

“The Board of Control for Cricket in India and VIVO India Pvt Ltd. have decided to suspend their partnership for India Premier League in 2020,” read the statement.

The current border tension between India and China is most likely the reason for suspending the title sponsorship with VIVO. There have been anti-China sentiments across the country, though legally this argument couldn’t have been the reason.

Instead, the pandemic-induced change in venue and timelines would have more likely provided a backdrop for mutually agreeing to implement a one-year moratorium, according to legal experts.

“If both parties mutually agree, they can make any alterations to a contract such as a one-year break or suspension like this,” sports lawyer Nandan Kamath said. “(But) unlike a government direction that might prohibit or embargo such dealings, mere negative public sentiment towards Chinese companies does not in itself constitute a force majeure event.”

In 2018, VIVO signed a five-year deal with BCCI as part of which it paid Rs 440 crore a year for title sponsorship. Each franchisee earned around Rs 30 crore from the title sponsorship, which they are set to lose out on.

“The loss per team will be in the region of Rs 25-30 crore, which will bring them dangerously close to break-even. The franchises will also have to incur additional costs of moving their respective teams to UAE which would cost them an additional Rs 15-20 crore. So, if an average team earns a revenue of Rs 260 crore it will come down to around Rs 215 crore.”

Harish Thawani, Founder of Nimbus Communications

According to experts, BCCI will find it hard to get a title sponsor on such short notice. Brands mostly prefer a long term contract when it comes to title sponsorship. The best solution would be selling the title sponsorship at a much lower cost in the current scenario.

“They have to offer freebies such as getting marquee players to endorse the potential title sponsor’s brands and so on. Despite doing all that, BCCI will be lucky if they manage to garner even half of what Vivo paid them.”

Hitesh Gossain, Founder of sponsorship platform Onspon

Though, there are a few contenders for the title sponsorship. Current sponsors like Dream11 or their competitors My11Circle have a good opportunity here. Brands like Patanjali and Amul could also take advantage of the festive season during the IPL along with Amazon. The rising investment in the edtech industry could see edtech startups interested in the title sponsorship too.

IPL is a widely followed competition in the world, especially India. It has always managed to garner great amount of views. Its major competition in terms of views used to be mostly the movies releasing during the IPL season. With the likelihood of not many movies releasing in multiplexes during the COVID-19 pandemic; IPL has a good opportunity to have more views this season. Additionally, there hasn’t been much cricketing action and IPL will be a welcome relief for cricketing fans around the world.

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