With the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) confirming the interest of two English football clubs in owning one of the eight clubs in its new Twenty20 Indian Premier League (IPL), expectations in the connected cricket-television trade have soared.
BCCI Vice-president Lalit Modi told the Sunday Times that the intending club owners were among a group of British businessmen interested in investing in the IPL, including two leading industrialists and a major London investment fund.
Though the identities of the entrepreneurs have not been revealed, there is widespread speculation they are Stan Kroenke, the American sports entrepreneur who owns a 12% stake in Arsenal, and George Gillett and Tom Hicks, who bought Liverpool FC earlier this year.
They may join film Star Russell Crowe, Shah Rukh Khan and Kingfisher boss Vijay Mallya. Naresh Goyal, owner of Jet Airways, is also said to be keen, as also Sunil Mittal of Airtel. Bidders will have to offer at least $50 million for one of eight teams and then pay $300,000 per player for the two-month season.
This year’s inaugural tournament drew large TV audiences, attracted by its big-hitting, all-action style. The game is limited to 20 overs per team, which reduces five and one-day matches to a few hours in which each team is under pressure to hit as many sixes and fours as possible.
Sources close to Modi said the IPL could double BCCI’s revenues to about $2 billion a year, with each of the eight new club franchises generating hundreds of millions more.
IPL’s rival league ICL (backed by ZEE Network) gets underway this Friday at Panchkula near Chandigarh until Sunday 16th December.