Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sports Draw Big Money, Mega Stars in India

As India's economy, business and industry experience rapid growth, large amounts of sponsorship dollars are flowing into the various sports including cricket, football and golf. At first, most of the attention was on the big cricket stars such as Sachin Tedulkar grossing million of dollars a year. Then came the Indian Cricket League(ICL) and Indian Premier League(IPL) drawing the biggest names in cricket such as Brian Lara and Inzimam-ul-Haq. The ICL tournaments covered by Zee Sports TV channel have been a great spectacle, comparable to the NFL and MLB games in the United States. Well, the money gusher is now starting to flood Indian golf with $2.5m purse for the Indian Masters golf tournament last February in Delhi.

While a $2.5m purse is small and about the same as Qatar Masters, it represents a growth opportunity that has attracted the big names in golf including South African Ernie Els, Fijian Vijay Singh and Australian Adam Scott. "As these events draw richer and more-aggressive backers, they have been offering more prize money. In November 2009, Dubai will host the Dubai World Championship, which will feature a prize purse of $10 million, making it the most-lucrative golf tournament ever for players", reports the Wall Street Journal. It goes on to say as follows: the declining dollar has lowered the relative value of purses at U.S. tournaments, making these Asian, Middle Eastern and European gigs harder for players to ignore. When asked during his stay in New Delhi whether he expected more top players to play outside the U.S., Mr. Els quipped, "The way the dollar is going, I'm sure."

Most of the new tournaments don't match the average purses available in the U.S. or even the European Tour. In Delhi, the $2.5 million purse was about the same as in the Qatar Masters in January, compared with an average purse of $5.8 million for the U.S. tour and $3.8 million for the European Tour. But the money race in on. In November 2009, Dubai will host the Dubai World Championship, which will feature a prize purse of $10 million, making it the most-lucrative golf tournament ever for players.

1 comment:

Riaz Haq said...

Following a row between Sashi Tharoor and Lalit Modi, there have been allegation of money laundering via IPL franchises in India. Here's a BBC report:

India has ordered an investigation into the financing of the Indian Premier League (IPL) following allegations of corruption in the cricket tournament.

The move follows the resignation of junior foreign minister Shashi Tharoor amid controversy over his role in bidding for one of the IPL's new teams.

India's finance minister said "no wrong-doer would be spared" in the probe into the league's funding.

But IPL chief Lalit Modi denies any allegations of funding irregularities.

Mr Modi has described the claims as "absolutely baseless".

Opposition lawmakers in parliament have alleged that the league has been used for money laundering and illegal betting.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told parliament that tax authorities had already begun an investigation.

"All aspects including sources of funding and routes through which the funds arrived would be looked into," he said.

Indian cricket's governing body also said it would meet to discuss the allegations against the tournament.

Media reports suggest there are plans to force Lalit Modi from his office.

The IPL has become a multi-billion dollar industry, which attracts some of India's wealthiest businessmen and women.

Cricket's popularity with the Indian masses means that politicians are also keen to get involved with the sport, BBC correspondents say.

Public spat

Mr Tharoor resigned on Sunday after a row over allegations that a female friend, Dubai-based businesswoman Sunanda Pushkar, received a free stake in a new IPL franchise.

He denies any wrongdoing in the bid for the new Kochi cricket team, to be based in his home state of Kerala.

Mr Tharoor claimed he was just a mentor for the team and denied allegations that he was set to benefit financially.

He and Ms Pushkar say the stake was awarded as "sweat equity" in return for marketing and professional services to the new franchise - but Ms Pushkar has now offered to surrender the stake.

His resignation followed a public spat between Lalit Modi, the head of the IPL, and Mr Tharoor over ownership of the new cricket team for Kochi.

Kochi was sold to Rendezvous Sports World Limited for $333m at auction. It and Pune are to join the IPL from 2011, taking the total number of teams to 10.

Meanwhile in Bangalore, officials are angry that this week's semi-finals have been moved to Mumbai for security reasons.

Politicians and police in the city say they were not consulted about the move, which followed two small bombs before a game on Saturday.