While corporate biggies such as Hero MotoCorp and JSW have put their plans on hold to buy a team in Indian Premier League (IPL), it is learnt that the country’s most talked about e-commerce giants such as Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal and Paytm have expressed interest to pick up a franchise at a bargain in the lucrative yet corruption-hit cricket tournament.
After a Supreme Court panel suspended Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) from IPL for two years on charges of illegal betting by their owners, a move that many believe has opened the doors for two new teams to be inducted in IPL’s next edition, names of some top business houses were doing the rounds. Among them, the Sajjan Jindal-led $11-billion JSW Group said on Thursday it will wait for the air to clear before taking a call. A spokesperson for Hero MotoCorp, the country’s largest two-wheeler maker, said, “We have no plans to buy an IPL team.”
But e-commerce players, most of which are flush with cash from investors, are not toeing that line as IPL is the quickest way to build a brand in India, given its viewership. “It’s a great opportunity to pick up a team at the moment and we are watching the space very closely,” said Shankar Nath, senior VP at Paytm, a marketplace and a mobile wallet company backed by Japan’s Softbank. “IPL provides a great opportunity for unknown players in the market to build a brand. The last IPL worked very well for us. At present, we are waiting for things to unfold so that the issues become clearer. When the opportunity comes, we would definitely want to join the bidding process.”
Amazon India, Flipkart and Snapdeal did not reply to e-mailed questionnaires on the issue. However, people familiar with the developments said owning an IPL team is an opportunity e-commerce companies wouldn’t want to miss given the current scenario. “Cash isn’t a problem. There is immense competition in the online retail space as well and owning a team in IPL could be a major differentiator. If the new teams come in cheap, we may look at the opportunity,” said a senior executive of a large online marketplace.
[“source – cricbuzz.com”]