Saudi Arabia eyes multi-billion dollar stake in Indian Premier League
Recent reports have stirred interest from Saudi Arabia regarding a substantial investment in India’s lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) men’s Twenty20 cricket competition.
According to sources cited by Bloomberg, advisors to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have engaged in discussions with Indian government officials regarding a potential move to establish the IPL under a holding company, potentially reaching a staggering $30 billion in overall worth.
As it stands, the IPL is overseen by a governing council and, ultimately, by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), with its 10 teams all privately owned. The discussions took place in September during bin Salman’s visit to India, with the proposed Saudi investment in the IPL estimated to reach a total worth of approximately $5 billion.
In December of the previous year, the IPL welcomed the Saudi Tourism Authority as a commercial partner, joining Saudi oil giant Aramco, which was already the exclusive sponsor of the Orange Cup, awarded to the IPL’s top run-scorer, and the Purple Cap, presented to its leading wicket-taker.
When compared to Saudi Arabia’s significant and sometimes controversial investments in other sports, notably soccer and golf, cricket has not been on the same radar until now. While Aramco also has an agreement with the International Cricket Council (ICC), Saudi Arabia lacks a cricket league, homegrown players in major leagues elsewhere, or substantial investments from Saudi companies or the government in global cricketing competitions.
However, the recent reports indicate a shift in this trend. Earlier reports in April hinted that Saudi government officials had discussions with IPL franchise owners about the possibility of establishing a similar cricket competition within the kingdom.
Launched in 2008, the IPL has steadily grown into one of the world’s most valuable sports properties in terms of financial worth, with its media rights for the current five-year cycle alone surpassing $6 billion.
Evision, the media and entertainment division of the Emirati technology and investment group e&, secured media rights for the 2023 IPL in Saudi Arabia through an agreement with the Times Internet Indian media group.
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