Just two years after India's biggest two-wheeler manufacturer, Hero MotoCorp, splashed money into cricket by inking a record sponsorship deal of $15 million in the Indian Premier League with the Mumbai Indians, the company has decided to pull out with one year still left on the contract.
This announcement comes three days after Hero decided to renew its sponsorship deal with the governing body of world hockey, the International Hockey Federation (FIH), following a successful first edition of the Hockey India League, where they were the title sponsors.
In 2011, Hero had signed a $15 million sponsorship deal with the Mumbai franchise which was the biggest in the history of the IPL. That deal had only strengthened their ties with the franchise, considering they were already present in the first three seasons of the league as one of the many sponsors.
Cricket's loss, however, is other sports' gain, primarily hockey's as Hero continues to pump in investments in its direction. Their renewed sponsorship deal with FIH will see at least one major international event being held in India annually for the next four years.
This will include the upcoming Hockey World League 2, the 2013 men's Junior World Cup, the 2014 men's Hockey World League final, the 2014 Champions Trophy and the 2015 Hockey World League final.
"We have been associated with cricket for over two decades, and it is not correct to say that we are now moving away from cricket. We at Hero MotoCorp are engaged in the promotion of several sports including golf, hockey, soccer etc. Our decision not to renew our central contract with IPL and with IPL team Mumbai Indians does not in any way dilute our commitment to cricket as a sport," the company said in an email to The Indian Express. "It is the most popular game in the country, and we will continue to remain associated with the game in various forms."
Hero, however, is not the first company to distance itself from cricket. Before the third edition of the Champions League T20 in 2011, Bharti Airtel, India's largest mobile service provider, had withdrawn from sponsoring the tournament further due to the decreasing viewership of the event. The deal was abandoned three years before it was to end.
Later that month, Airtel joined hands with the Formula One Group to become the title sponsor of the Indian Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit.