BAI strikes 3-year sponsorship deal with Yonex : A true win or not?

yonex India

The Badminton Association of India has inked a Rs 75 crore deal with Yonex Sunrise, the Japanese sports equipment manufacturer, which will now supply equipment to BAI for all their tournaments, camps and academies in India. In return this eminent sports brand will hold title sponsorship rights for all tournaments held under the aegis of the federation for the coming three years.

Himanta Biswa Sarma, the BAI President told the press about this great leap,“We would like to thank Yonex-Sunrise for their continuous support to Indian badminton. We are really very happy with this new deal going through and will give us financial stability going forward and will help us to develop and promote the sport further in the country.”

The Secretary General of BAI, Ajay Singhania, told the press, “This is a huge development for badminton in the country and further cements our reputation as one of the best Olympic sports federations in India. This is unprecedented and will take badminton to the next level in the country.” The BAI asserted that it was the first Olympic sports federation in the country to sign such a “mega commercial partnership”.

However, taking the whole scene from another point of view, we can see that it’s the lack of clarity in the eligibility criteria for sponsorship as specified by the federation which has possibly resulted in Yonex being the only company that bid for Indian badminton’s sponsorship.  According to reports, the BAI had invited tenders from leading equipment manufacturers in India in the month April this year.

Conversely, the federation later released an addendum with eligibility criteria for potential bidders. The addendum states that the applicant should have achieved an average annual turnover of at least Rs 300 crores globally from overall activities during the past three financial years, along with an average annual turnover of at least Rs 200 crores from overall activities in India alone during the last three financial years.

So, question that arises here is as to whether these two criteria made sure that no other company apart from Yonex was able to bid for the rights.

Other badminton equipment companies such as Li Ning, Victor and Babolat do not have a sizeable presence in India. Ajay Singhania, the BAI Secretary General clarified that either of the two criteria with respect to the annual turnover (Rs 300 crore globally or Rs 200 crore in India) needed to be fulfilled.

Nonetheless, this was not clearly put up in unambiguous phrases in the addendum, due to which, Yonex became the only company to have applied for the rights by the last date for submission, which was originally the 26th of April. Later, as per the government norms, the federation extended the deadline to the 30th of April. Even then, it did not receive any other bid plausibly due to the lack of clarity in the addendum. Singhania also told the press that Victor, the Chinese manufacturer had downloaded the bid document but did not submit it.

So, Yonex taking up the bid is definitely a white box on the score card of the federation, but what went wrong at the back end almost wipes of this white box. Well, clarity of information is always important and necessary right?