Sahara India Pariwar on Wednesday renewed its sponsorship of the Indian men and women hockey teams, both senior and junior, for five years for an annual sum of Rs 8.5 crore. Though the deal was a bonanza for the national sport, Hockey India (HI) would still be disappointed as it failed to extract a bigger hike.
According to sources in the know of the negotiations, Narinder Batra, secretary general HI, and Co. were seeking an amount close to Rs 16 crore, a 500% hike on the old amount.
However, Sahara officials did not budge and instead made a take-it-or-leave-it offer of Rs 8.5 crore. With no other option available, Hockey India had to accept the offer as it could not have gone into next week's Olympic Qualifiers in New Delhi without a sponsor.
Though the final amount would be around 170% higher than the previous deal, it isn't too big an amount as the 2003 deal was worth Rs 3.45 crore annually. "The 170 percent hike is required as the last deal was done almost nine years ago and such a hike was very much needed," said an insider on condition of anonymity.
Asked about HI's expectations, the source said a 500% hike was unrealistic. "They (HI) could have signed up with somebody else, if they had other alternatives," he added.
The Indian team players had played without a logo in last month's test series against South Africa (men) and Azerbaijan (women) respectively as the old agreement signed in 2003 for eight years had expired last year and was extended only for six months.
Sahara had signed the deal with Indian Hockey Federation but HI tried to wriggle out of it when it was engaged in a power-struggle with IHF. Sahara got relief from the Kolkata High Court and the deal continued.