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Bengaluru-APL Apollo deal the latest in slew of Indian football sponsorships

Indian Super League team scarves prior to an AFC Asian Cup match between India and Bahrain on January 14, 2019 in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)

Indian Super League football club Bengaluru FC has agreed a one-year sponsorship deal with steel pipe manufacturer APL Apollo, in the latest of a slew of deals agreed ahead of the 2019-20 season.

In the last few weeks, deals have been agreed by brands including Asian Paints, Ceat Tyres, courier DHL, clothing company Jockey, brewer and conglomerate Kingfisher, and co-working space firm Workafella.

APL Apollo, a major firm with a market capitalisation of $35bn (€bn), will be Bengaluru’s Official Steel Pipes and Tubes Partner. Welcoming the deal, the company’s chairman Sanjay Gupta said: “Sports has been my passion and this year has been extra special as we successfully partnered with sports leagues like IPL [the Indian Premier League cricket competition] and Pro Kabaddi League. I look forward to another enthusiastic association with…Bengaluru FC. Football is one of the most loved sports in the country, where the true spirit of sportsmanship is reflected. It has a massive reach and we want to extend our full support to BFC in their endeavour of producing exceptional results.”

Bengaluru FC kicks off its 2019-20 season with a game against NorthEast United FC next Monday.

NorthEast United FC is linked to two other deals announced over the weekend, agreed by the organisers of the North-East Super 6 regional youth tournament, with Asian Paints and Ceat Tyres. NorthEast United is a partner of tournament, which is taking place from October 25 to November 23, and is aimed at promoting football among young people in the region. It has attracted 32 teams from nine cities across India’s eight north-eastern states.

Asian Paints’ COO Amit Syngle said: “It is a proud moment for Asian Paints to support a tournament that would handpick the budding football talent hidden in smaller towns of our country. The eight northeastern states are making their presence felt on the national map, and deserve the best of opportunities presented to them. Given the…football craze in the North East among the locals, it is the perfect opportunity for Asian Paints to connect with the consumer base here and come together to promote this much-loved sport.”

The Super 6 tournament is for players under 16 years of age, and features six-a-side teams, with four rolling substitutions per match, and matches of 20 minutes’ duration.

ISL team FC Goa announced three deals in the last few weeks. Conglomerate Kingfisher, among whose well-known businesses is its beer brand, agreed a deal to be associate sponsor for the 2019-20 season, the third season it is partnering the team. Jockey India, the innerwear and athleisure brand, agreed a multi-year deal with the club. Jockey’s activation will include creating digital content for fans and a fan engagement zone on matchdays at the team’s Jawaharla Nehru Stadium. And on October 25, online gaming company Adda52 Rummy was announced as a sponsor for 2019-20.

Also on the week of October 25, courier DHL Express announced an extension of its deal to sponsor the Indian Super League to cover a fifth consecutive season. DHL Express is the league’s Official Match Ball partner, and delivers the match ball used at all 95 games. DHL also sponsors a ‘Winning Pass’ competition for the best assist pass each season.

RS Subramanian, country manager for DHL Express India, said: “We are proud that DHL and the league share the same values of Passion, Can Do, and Speed, and we look forward to yet another successful season of Indian Super League.”

In the middle of last month, ISL team Chennaiyin FC agreed a deal with Workafella under which the team’s staff will work from one of the company’s co-working spaces. The club will also use the space for fan meet-and-greet events, sponsor activations, media events including potentially pre-match press conferences, and other partner events.

The 2019-20 Indian Super League season began last Wednesday, October 30. The ISL this season became the top tier of league football in India, taking over the mantle from the I-League.