Saudi Arabia eyes major slice of IPL pie



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Saudi Arabia eyes stake in IPL Image: Dharamshala Cricket Stadium Himachal Pradesh & hpcricket.org

Saudi Arabia has expressed interest in buying a multibillion-dollar stake in the Indian Premier League (IPL), international cricket’s most lucrative event, following a string of investments that have upended professional sports including football and golf.

‘gulfnews.com’ stated that the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s advisers have sounded out Indian Government officials about moving the IPL into a holding company valued at as much as $30 billion, in which Saudi Arabia would then take a significant stake, people familiar with the matter said. The talks were held when the Crown Prince visited India in September, the people said, asking not to be named as the information is not public.

The Indian Premier League (IPL) is a men’s Twenty20 cricket league that is annually held in India and is contested by 10 City-based franchise teams. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) founded the league in 2007. The competition is usually held in Summer between March and May every year. It has an exclusive window in the International Cricket Council (ICC) Future Tours Programme due to fewer international cricket tours happening during IPL seasons worldwide. The IPL is the most-popular cricket league in the world. In 2014, it was ranked sixth by average attendance among all sports leagues. In 2010, the IPL became the first sporting event to be broadcast live on YouTube. The other Indian sports leagues have been established based on the success of the IPL.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is the national governing body of cricket in India. Its headquarters is situated at the cricket center in Churchgate, Mumbai. The BCCI is the wealthiest governing body of cricket in the world.

Dubai (UAE)-based the International Cricket Council (ICC) is the global governing body of cricket. It was founded as the Imperial Cricket Conference in 1909 by representatives from Australia, England and South Africa. It was renamed as the International Cricket Conference in 1965, and adopted its current name in 1987.

The ICC Future Tours Programme is a schedule of international cricket tours which structure the program of cricket for International Cricket Council (ICC) full members, with an objective of each team playing each other at least once at home and once away over a period of 10 years.

‘gulfnews.com’ further stated that under plans discussed at the time, the Kingdom proposed investing as much as $5 billion into the league and help lead an expansion into other countries, similar to the English Premier League or the European Champions League, the people said.

While the Saudi Government is keen to press on with a deal, the Indian Government and the country’s cricket regulator BCCI are likely to take a call on the proposal after next year’s federal elections, the people said.

Saudi Arabia’s powerful sovereign wealth fund, which has anchored many of the Kingdom’s previous sports investments, could ultimately be the vehicle used to do a deal with the BCCI if an agreement is reached. No final decisions have yet been made.

Representatives for the BCCI and the Saudi Government’s Center for International Communication didn’t respond to requests for comment. The Public Investment Fund also declined to comment.

Riyadh (Saudi Arabia)-based the Saudi Center for International Communication (CIC) is a Saudi Arabian Government media organization established in August 2017. The Minister of Culture and Information (MOCI) established the CIC. The CIC is a central source of information.

Riyadh (Saudi Arabia)-based the Public Investment Fund (PIF) is the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia. It is among the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world with total estimated assets of US$776 billion. It was created in 1971 for the purpose of investing funds on behalf of the Government of Saudi Arabia.

Since its inception in 2008, the IPL has married American-style marketing with the glitz of Bollywood (Indian film industry) and the energy of India’s vast population.

The league has drawn a plethora of sponsors, including Aramco and the Saudi tourism authority. And despite a season that runs for just eight weeks each Spring, bidders last year paid $6.2 billion for the right to broadcast IPL games through 2027. That works out to $15.1 million per match, more than the English Premier League (EPL) and just behind the $17 million networks pay for each game in the National Football League (NFL) in the United States.

Dhahran (Saudi Arabia)-based Saudi Aramco is a multinational petroleum and natural gas company that is the national oil company of Saudi Arabia. It is the world’s largest oil company and the most profitable company in the world, with estimated reserves of around 260 billion barrels of oil.

London (UK)-based the Premier League is the highest level of the English football league system. Contested by 20 clubs, it operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the English Football League. Seasons typically run from August to May, with each team playing 38 matches against all other teams, both home and away.

New York (US)-based the National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league that consists of 32 teams, divided equally between the American Football Conference and the National Football Conference.

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