Suresh Raina has signed a three-year Rs 35-crore contract with IOS Sports & Entertainment to manage the cricketer’s endorsements deals, ending his association with Rhiti Sports Management, which is owned by his IPl and India teammate, India captain MS Dhoni.
Rhiti is run by Arun Pandey, who manages Dhoni and other cricketers such as Ravindra Jadeja, Mohit Sharma and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, and Australian swimmer Stephanie Rice. Raina said he made the move because he wanted more focused attention on both his cricket as well as his commercials.
I won’t be the No. 2 player in this new company. Raina currently has only one endorsement contract, with Adidas for three years. His deals with brands such as Pepsi, Boost and an UP-based real estate company have ended, he told ET.
Neerav Tomar, managing director and chief executive of IOS Sports, said Raina had been under-marketed so far. “We want to position him as a reliable brand. He has been one of the top five Indian cricketers for some time now. We have already started working with some brands on Raina,” he said. The company previously managed only non- cricket sports persons, such as boxers Mary Kom and Vijender Singh, wrestlers Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt, shooters Gagan Narang and Heena Sidhu and archer Deepika Kumari. Raina is the management firm’s first cricketer client.
“Raina’s brand imagery has to be enhanced. He has been a little shy of media all these years so a bit of image management will be required,” Tomar said.
Tomar and his team are targeting Rs 35 crore for Raina in the This would come from a mix of endorsements, licensing, merchandising and also setting up academies. “A lot of this target will be based on his on-field performance and his getting leadership positions in the future, including in the IPL,” Tomar said.
Raina has been playing well, having made 374 runs in 17 IPL matches in the 2015 season. He has made five centuries in 218 one-day internationals and plays lower down the order, giving strength to the Indian batting lineup. The 28-year-old all-rounder said that he needed to plan for his upcoming future. He wants to concentrate on cricket as well as commercials.
Dhoni has been facing an enquiry about his alleged conflict of interest in owning stake at Rhiti Sports Management.
The Indian cricket board has said that the matter was with the disciplinary committee, but it had not submitted its report in this matter so far. ET had reported in 2013 that Dhoni owned a 15% stake in Rhiti, though the company said the cricketer was a shareholder only for a short period and did not have any stake in the company anymore.