BCCI’s crypto diktat upsets IPL franchisees

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BCCI’s crypto diktat upsets IPL franchisees

Mumbai: A few Indian Premier League franchise owners are upset with the Board of Control for Cricket in India over its diktat banning any deals with cryptocurrency exchanges.

These franchises had received interest from large crypto exchanges to be title or associate sponsors of their teams ahead of the next season of the T20 cricket league and had initiated negotiations. However, the Indian cricket board told them that till the time regulation is in place for the crypto sector, no commercial deal with cryptocurrency players will be allowed.

ET has learnt that the BCCI had sent a directive to all the team owners, as well as media rights holder Star & Disney India, to abstain from signing any sponsorship deals with cryptocurrency exchanges.

Two franchisees, requesting anonymity, confirmed to The Economic Times that they had to scrap the discussions.

“It’s a major opportunity loss. The kind of money they were offering for the main sponsorship was 1.5 times of what the current sponsor is paying,” one executive said. “They wanted to build their brand with our association and were ready to pay for that.”

What has irked some franchises is the fact that the International Cricket Council (ICC) had no issues with cryptocurrency players advertising or sponsoring its events. ET recently reported that CoinDCX and CoinSwitch Kuber
spent more than Rs 50 crore collectively in sponsorship deals during the ICC T20 World Cup.

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An email sent to BCCI officials seeking comment did not elicit a response.

Executives from at least four franchise holders confirmed that they have been approached by crypto players recently. They requested not to be named.

A BCCI insider said the issue is more political in nature.

“While the members of the IPL governing council may not have an issue with cryptocurrency exchanges advertising, it’s a matter of optics. BCCI secretary Jay Shah is the son of the union home minister, and the central government
is in the process of bringing a crypto bill in the upcoming winter session of parliament. Till there is some clarity, he may not be seen allowing crypto ads,” he said. “The board, thus, would rather err on the side of caution.”

The IPL is arguably the biggest media property in India, which has helped companies build brand affinity in India. A number of smartphone manufacturers, as well as fintech and edtech startups have used the marketing power of IPL to get validation and instant recognition.

However, on crypto, legal experts
have been raising red flags over the ads, worried that these may suggest guaranteed returns or make exaggerated claims. Currently, there are no regulations on cryptocurrencies.

Already, Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das
has expressed concerns and been arguing for a complete ban on cryptocurrencies, saying that these virtual currencies pose serious risks to the country’s financial stability. Lately, top private banks
have started reaching out to customers informing them about the risks associated with cryptocurrencies.

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