India's limited overs captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who remains a sought after personality in the endorsement world despite his retirement from Tests, has been duped by one of the many brands he endorses -- Spartan Sports -- of over Rs 20 crore.
It has been reliably learnt that a three-year bat and sponsorship deal worth Rs 13 crore has gone sour with Australia-based Spartan Sports, a sporting gear and equipment company, regularly defaulting on payments. With the royalty clause on Dhoni's bat deal included, the owed amount goes well over Rs 20 crore.
Sources in legal firm advising Rhiti Sports, Dhoni's management company, told PTI that Kunal Sharma-owned Spartan has paid only four installments since the deal was struck in December 2013, the latest payment being made in March 2016.
When asked why the deal has gone awry, Rhiti Sports boss Arun Pandey did not elaborate before saying that, "everything is not smooth and hopefully the matter will be resolved soon".
Spartan boss Sharma did not respond to calls and messages despite repeated attempts.
Besides Dhoni, the Australian company interestingly has big names of the cricketing world as its ambassadors – former Australian captain Michael Clarke, West Indies batsman Chris Gayle, England cricketer Eoin Morgan, former Australian pacer Mitchell Johnson and Sir Viv Richards to name a few.
Some other Australian cricketers associated with the brand are Joe Burns and Gurinder Sandhu.
While the deal with Spartan is technically still on, Rhiti Sports are planning to take legal action against the company which has its flagship store not just in Sydney but also in New Delhi.
Though Test captain Virat Kohli is the most sought after cricketer in the endorsement market, Dhoni remains in demand with his brand value worth over Rs 100 crore.
Dhoni currently endorses 15 brands besides co-ownership in ISL football franchise Chennaiyin FC and Hockey India League team Ranchi Rays.