Mumbai: The DLF Indian Premier League has tied up with a lot of partners to make the inaugural edition a smashing success. After the announcement earlier in the day that Pepsi would be the official beverage of the league for five years (Read: IPL's official beverage supplier for 5 years: Pepsi), comes the news that Kingfisher Airlines would be the umpire partner for this cricketing and entertainment extravaganza.
This extends Vijay Mallya's involvement in the IPL beyond his ownership of the Rahul Dravid-led Hyderabad-based team Royal Challengers, so named after Mallya's flagship label Royal Challenge. Kingfisher Airlines bagged these five-year rights for a huge amount of Rs.106 crores.
As per the agreement, Kingfisher Airlines will receive branding on the umpires' uniform, as well as make prominent appearances during third-umpire decisions. Mallya was very enthusiastic with his brand's association with the IPL, and promised to ''present the DLF IPL umpires in a completely new and modern style while retaining their critical role in the sport''. He also stressed on his aim of continuing to build the Kingfisher brand by associating it with sports ventures, after his ambitious foray into Formula One racing.
Lalit Modi, chairman and commissioner, DLF Indian Premier League, also mentioned Kingfisher's synergy with sports when he said, ''Kingfisher Airlines has had a long association with a variety of sports at both the domestic and international levels including Tennis, Formula 1, Polo and now cricket''. Expressing happiness on the acceptability of the league among corporates, he added, ''Their decision bears testimony to the fact that the DLF Indian Premier League is here to stay, and is set to carve out a distinct niche for itself in the international cricket calendar''.
The IPL is scheduled to start from 18 April and will involve 59 matches in the 20-20 format, with the first one being played between Shah Rukh Khan's Kolkata Knight Riders and Vijay Mallya's Royal Challengers at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore.