The Apollo 2018 Mission has crashed even before it showed any signs of taking off. In what has to be one of the biggest turnarounds in corporate commitment to Indian sport, Apollo Tyres is set to completely withdraw its support to the development of junior tennis players of India.
From the promised funding of Rs 100 crore over a period of 10 years, the company has chosen to move on after spending a fraction of the amount.
“We have recently informed all the Mission 2018 parents that Apollo has begun this process and will not be in a position to support the Mission beyond March 2010,” says a statement from the company to Hindustan Times elaborating on its position vis-à-vis its tennis programme launched in sync with Mahesh Bhupathi.
The two had announced that they would produce a Grand Slam champion for India by 2018.
There are enough conspiracy theories doing the rounds — most of them being spread by Bhupathi’s detractors — but no concrete reasons are being given by the company or Bhupathi as to just what has caused this departure from the earlier vociferous support.
“This is an unfortunate decision we have been compelled to take due to circumstances beyond our control,” is all that Apollo is willing to divulge as of now. The timing of the withdrawal is surprising, as the company has been doing quite well this financial year.
According to its publicly listed figures on the Bombay Stock Exchange, Apollo Tyres has actually made a profit of 102.1 crore in the quarter ending September ‘09.
That’s quite a better showing than the 7.79 crore for the same period last year.
The curious bit is that there was no cessation of support at the height of the economic slowdown but the plug has been pulled just as profits seem to be rising.