Is Saudi Arabia looking at a multi-billion dollar IPL stake?
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5 months ago 06:00:52am Television

Is Saudi Arabia looking at a multi-billion dollar IPL stake?

New Delhi,04-November – 2023, By IBW Team

Is Saudi Arabia looking at a multi-billion dollar IPL stake?

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.

According to a Bloomberg report yesterday, 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 kingdom’s de facto ruler visited India in September, the people said, asking not to be named as the information is not public.

Under plans discussed at the time, the Bloomberg report highlighted, 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 powerful but opaque cricket regulator — BCCI — are likely to take a call on the proposal after next year’s federal elections, the people said. The BCCI is led by Jay Shah, the son of India’s Home Minister Amit Shah.

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 declined to comment, the Bloomberg report added.

Since its inception in 2008, the IPL has married American-style marketing with the glitz of Bollywood and the energy of India’s vast population. The IPL’s central strategic move was to discard cricket’s traditional format for broadcast-friendly three or four hour games that encourage big, risky swings and frequent “sixes”, cricket’s equivalent of a home run.

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 EPL and just behind the $17 million networks pay for each game in the National Football League in the US.

Any Saudi investment into the IPL or changes to the league’s format will likely mean those agreements for media rights will need to be reworked, according to people familiar with the matter.

(Photo courtesy IPLT20.com)


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