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Australian Cricket Eyes Up Private Equity Investment Options

Australian Cricket Eyes Up Private Equity Investment Options

Reports have emerged Australian cricket could soon follow the lead of New Zealand Rugby in selling its commercial arm to private equity investors to inject more money into the sport.

The reports come as Cricket Australia’s (CA) Australian Cricket Strategy is nearing its end in 2022 and administrators are looking for new ways inject capital to Australian cricket as the organisation attempts to recover from the impacts of COVID-19 and the ongoing dispute with free-to-air broadcaster, Seven Network.

Initial discussions have suggested Cricket Australia’s commercial operations could be sold off to a private equity firm in the US or UK for upwards of $500 million, according to ESPNcricinfo.

One of the private investment options circulating include private ownership of Big Bash League (BBL) clubs, something the Australian Cricketers’ Association president, Shane Watson, believes should be re-examined following the success of overseas domestic leagues such as the IPL, PSL, CPL, and BPL.

“Yes, it 100% needs a revisit, and it’s a way to continue to get a cash injection as well,” Watson told ESPNcricinfo.

“Obviously they’d need to set things up to put things in place to make sure CA still have control that they desire across the franchises and the playing group, but absolutely, it’ll bring in an influx of different people, new money as well, to be able to continue to grow the game.

“So I think that absolutely would be a big step forward.

“I’ve seen it in a lot of the tournaments I’ve played in, one thing when you have private owners is it brings in a new type of person, a new type of industry, new money streams into a very traditional cricket environment.

“It’s the same sort of sponsors, the same people who’ve always been around cricket in Australia for example, so if you open it up to privatisation it means you’re getting some very successful people or businesses with different ideas on how to be able to expand things, make the better, challenge the status quo.

“Not just from a financial point of view, but also just from a brand and evolution point of view.

“I’ve always been very surprised it hasn’t been something that CA have looked at, and gone for.

“I’ve seen it work so incredibly well in the IPL and the PSL for example, because it brings in new, successful people, new money into something that’s been, in CA’s case, the same sort of status quo for a long period of time,” he said.

Meanwhile, Cricket Australia is set to meet Seven West Media, its free-to-air domestic broadcast rights holder in court on March 15 as part of the ongoing media rights contract dispute that began at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and the shutdown of global sport.

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