MS Dhoni signs India’s biggest ever sports management deal for $42 million

MS Dhoni seems to be well on his way to being the most successful Indian sportsman ever.

Dhoni, who recently got married in a hush-hush ceremony, has signed a deal with sports management company Rhiti Sports, which is the icing on the cake of his long list of successes. This deal surpasses the one that Sachin Tendulkar made with Iconix in 2006, which was for Rs.180 crore. According to Rhiti’s statement, this move puts Dhoni in the same league as Tiger Woods.

The two-year deal with the management company is worth $42 million (Rs. 200 crore), is the biggest marketing deal ever signed by an Indian sportsperson. The management company is a joint venture of Rhiti Sports Management and Mindscapes Maestros. According to the deal, the company will handle all of Dhoni’s endorsements, advertising and digital rights, merchandise and visibility on social networking sites. The cricketer is currently associated with almost 22 leading brands like PepsiCo, Godrej and Reebok among others.

Sources at Rhiti say that the amount that they have arrived is one that they are happy with, and that they are confident of recovering a good value from the deal. Management companies usually make 30% of the endorsement amount that its client makes. According to them, the minimum guarantee amount is Rs.200 for 3 years, but this figure can easily go up. It is clear that this is something that is expected to happen, considering that Dhoni is enjoying tremendous success and has a growing brand value quite unlike any that India has seen before.

According to a Forbes study published last year, MS Dhoni is at the top of the world richest cricketers list – apparently earning an annual figure of $10 million, of which $8 million reportedly came from endorsements. Sachin Tendulkar was in second place with $8 million.

Sources say that Dhoni charges up to Rs.6 crore for an endorsement a year. In 2008, Dhoni split with the sports management company that he had a long term deal with – Gameplan Sports Private Limited. The cricketer alleged that the company had cheated him of Rs.10.5 crore and files a lawsuit regarding the same.

Rhiti Sports is a company that was set up in 2007 by former Ranji Trophy player Arun Pandey. Mindscape Maestros is a celebrity management firm, started in 2008. Dhoni has been Mindscape’s star client for some time now. The company also manages Bollywood actor John Abraham, cricketer Rohit Sharma and handles the marketing of the IPL Chennai Super Kings.

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