MS Dhoni set to make Rs 25 crore from bat sponsorship deal
By Ravi Teja Sharma
Indian cricket captain MS Dhoni is poised to run up a hefty score with his new bat sponsorship deals. He stands to make a record Rs 25 crore a year in separate pacts with Australian sports goods manufacturer Spartan Sports and Amity University.
The bigger deal is with Spartan Sports, whose equipment he’s already begun using, and is pegged at as much as Rs 18-20 crore a year, including royalty on goods sold as part of a joint venture by the company, said a person aware of the development. “It could also include an equity stake in Spartan Sports for Dhoni,” said the person, who didn’t want to be named.
Amity University will pay close to Rs 6 crore a year as corporate sponsor with branding on the back of Dhoni’s bat, the person said. “We are all about leadership and focus on the youth,” said Atul Chauhan, chancellor of the private university. “Dhoni too is a great leader and has a big youth connect.”
Dhoni’s previous bat sponsor was Reebok, which had its branding on his bat until the end of the recent India-Australia series at home. Dhoni used the Spartan bat against the West Indies. Reebok, which was paying close to Rs 6 crore a year to Dhoni for the bat sponsorship that began a few years ago, continues its relationship with the Indian captain on apparel and footwear.
The recently retired Sachin Tendulkar’s 2009 bat sponsorship deal with Adidas after a long stint with MRF was regarded as one of the biggest such pacts at Rs 4 crore. Then, earlier this year, Virat Kohli signed with MRF as bat sponsor in a deal worth Rs 6.5 crore. Unlike Reebok, MRF and others that sponsor cricketers’ bats but don’t manufacture their own, Spartan produces its own equipment. Dhoni’s management company said it’s maximising earnings by breaking up the sponsorship into various components. “We are getting more money by splitting our properties and selling them separately. In the last five years, the MS Dhoni brand has become much bigger,” said Arun Pandey, owner of Rhiti Sports that manages Dhoni, confirming the deals with Spartan and Amity. The joint venture that’s part of the deal is for the ’7 by MSD’ brand of equipment that Spartan will sell. Dhoni’s jersey number is 7.
“Dhoni’s association with Spartan is for perpetuity,” said Kunal Sharma, managing director of Spartan. “To get MS on board is the biggest highlight of our business. He is in perfect synergy with our brand,” said Mr Sharma, whose company is or has been associated with international cricketers such as Australian captain Michael Clarke, West Indian Chris Gayle and English wicket-keeper Matt Prior.
Messrs Pandey, Sharma and Chauhan declined to comment on the financial details. The deal will become part of an India entry strategy for Spartan Sports, which produces sporting equipment at a factory in Jalandhar but doesn’t sell locally. “This deal will give us massive inroads into the market. The young cricketer in Ranchi or in Indore or any part of India or the globe will be able to access our products,” said Mr Sharma.