It has recently come to light via Bloomberg that Saudi Arabia has expressed interest in purchasing a whopping multibillion-dollar stake in the Indian Premier League (IPL), international cricket’s most cash-rich event. It comes following their investments in other professional sports including football and golf.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s advisors have discussed transforming the IPL into a holding company with a potential worth of up to $30 billion, in which Saudi Arabia would thereafter acquire a sizeable part.
The discussions took place during the de facto ruler of the kingdom’s September visit to India. According to plans discussed at the time, they have offered to invest up to $5 billion in the league and assist in spearheading its expansion into other nations, much like the European Champions League or the English Premier League.
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 BCCI is led by Jay Shah, the son of India’s Home Minister Amit Shah — a close ally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Since its inception in 2008, IPL’s 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.”
Numerous sponsors have expressed interest in the league, such as Aramco and the Saudi tourism board. In addition, bidders last year spent $6.2 billion for the right to broadcast IPL games through 2027, despite the fact that the season only lasts eight weeks every spring. That comes to a total of $15.1 million every game, which is somewhat less than the $17 million that US networks pay for each National Football League game and more than the Premier League.
Saudi Arabia spent billions of dollars on sports over the last few years, and the head of the kingdom’s cricket organization has stated that he hopes to make Saudi Arabia a popular destination for cricket players worldwide.