New Delhi: Mahesh Bhupathi’s International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) on Thursday was dealt a jolt, as Micromax pulled the plug on its franchise ownership of Indian Aces.
According to a report in the Hindustan Times, consumer electronics company, which controlled 60% of the stake in the Indian team, will continue its association with the league as a sponsor.
“We are not franchise holders any more but will continue to be associated as a sponsor. We have been re-looking at our sports marketing strategy and felt there was merit in continuing as a sponsor. Managing a team is not our core competence and was a distraction. We would have had to set up a parallel organisation to manage it. Others may be geared to do that but we are not,” Shubhajit Sen, chief marketing officer of Micromax was quoted as saying by the HT report.
The main reason behind the company's decision to wash its hands off the franchise ownership is believed to be the losses incurred by it in the inaugural season that stood at $3.58 million (Rs 23.7 crore), as per an internal assessment.
“Inaugural season losses are a feature of every league. In season two, the losses will come down by 3/4th and some will even break even,” said Bhupathi.
Hyderabad-based PVP Ventures too had reservations about the IPTL's business model, which led to them backing out from investing in the Indian Aces.
“We have not one but multiple investors on board. So that’s not something that is of any worry. There is no question of the Indian leg being in jeopardy. If it was, we wouldn’t be selling tickets,” Bhupathi further stated.
The association between Micromax-led Indian Aces and Bhupathi had turned into a rocky affair of late. The legendary doubles player's lawyers had sent a legal notice in September to them demanding payments of pending dues worth $2.8 million (Rs 18.5 crore) and also informing Micromax of ending of the franchise agreement.