The finances of next month’s India Premier League have been disrupted as title sponsor Vivo has agreed with the Board of Control for Cricket in India to take a pass on this year’s event in view of the anti-China sentiment in the country.

The decision comes soon after the BCCI had insisted it was retaining all its sponsors, but the departure of Chinese phone brand Vivo leaves it with a financial headache. As well as the loss of Vivo’s Rs 440 crore-a-year contribution, there are no gate receipts from the television-only event taking place in Dubai from mid-September.

Broadcast partner Star India is also facing a big hit if Vivo decides to stay off air during the tournament – as much as Rs 250 crore in one estimation. That figure could rise significantly if other Chinese phone brands, including Oppo, RealMe, Xiaomi, choose not to advertise at this febrile time. According to Sandeep Goyal of the Mogae Media agency, Chinese brands’ ad spends contribute about 20-25% of total IPL revenues.

And some Indian brands could be pulled into the row as well. Karan Taurani, VP, Elara Capital, told MoneyControl that companies such as “Paytm, Dream 11, Swiggy and Zomato, all having Chinese relationships (investments), could decide to play it low-key”.

While the search is on for a replacement sponsor, there’s no expectation that the BCCI will bring in the same amount as Vivo was paying – and many thought that deal was hugely overvalued in any case.

With just 45 days before the tournament starts, BCCI sources indicated to the Times of India a hope that half of the value of the Vivo deal “can be recovered through either a new title sponsor or by way of bringing in multiple (three to four) official title partners”.

One industry executive suggested that “e-commerce companies and edu-startups will be keenly eyeing this space as the margins drop and windows open.”

Sourced from Times of India, Livemint, MoneyControl; additional content by WARC staff