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Is Pepsi ending its ‘costly affair’ with IPL?

MUMBAI: In what could have major ramifications for the BCCI, beverage conglomerate PepsiCo is looking at ending its association with the cash and controversy rich Indian Premier League (IPL) as its title sponsor.

According to a report in ‘The Indian Express’ PepsiCo, which pays nearly double what the previous title sponsor DLF was coughing up, wanted to withdraw last year but were persuaded to stick it out.

“Last season, Pepsi wanted to withdraw, especially in the aftermath of the spot-fixing case but the BCCI managed to convince it to stick on for another year. However, this time it was firm that it will not continue its association with the IPL, more so after the Lodha Committee recommended the suspension of Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals. The conflict of interest issues also had an impact,” a source told the Indian Express.

As per the report, Pepsi has informed IPL COO Sundar Raman that it intends to withdraw and that Raman has informed Shashank Manohar, the newly elected BCCI president, about their decision.

The BCCI will have its working committee meeting in Mumbai next week.

Kwan COO Indranil Das Blah noted that there is uncertainty about the IPL which is not good for any brands. “Brands want to stay away from controversies. There is uncertainty on the IPL. Will there be six teams or eight teams? There have to be at least eight teams next year. If there are six teams then it will be economically unviable. Every central sponsor wants clarity on the way forward. It is impossible for any sponsor to plan activation at the moment. The good news is that planning for activation only starts in January. So there is over two month’s time still remaining.”

He also added that the problem with six teams is that if that were to happen then the BCCI’s coffers would be less. The broadcaster MSM’s coffers would be less from the event. “This will affect everyone down the chain.” He is also clear that the BCCI needs to pull up its socks. “If Pepsi’s action does not make them pull up their socks then I don’t know what will.”

Though, he added that the IPL has a longer leash since it is such a huge media property. “If it had been a smaller property Pepsi would have pulled out earlier.”

Reacting to media reports, the BCCI has assured that it will take steps to address the cola major’s concerns.

“BCCI and PepsiCo have had a long-standing cordial relationship. PepsiCo has raised certain concerns with the BCCI,” the BCCI statement said.

“BCCI has assured that steps will be taken to address the concerns and will work necessary solutions in the interests of the league as well as PepsiCo.”

“As part of the process BCCI and PepsiCo have been in amicable discussions and further update will be shared in due course,” it added.

The cricket board will discuss the issue in its next working committee meeting in Mumbai on 18 October.