Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and recently throned Prime Minister, Mohammad Bin Salman, a sports enthusiast is reportedly eyeing an investment in the world’s biggest T20 cricket league, Indian Premier League (IPL).
Crown Prince’s advisers have reportedly discussed the possibility of moving IPL into a holding company, valued as much as $30 billion.
According to Bloomberg, if this passes through, Saudi Arabia could take a significant, multibillion-dollar stake. The report stated that the talks were held when the Saudi Prince visited India in September.
Saudi Arabia Crown Prince, Mohammad Bin Salman
Saudi Government are lining up a $5 Billion investment and the officials in India are aware of this information. Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) and the Indian Government are likely to finalise their decision after the next year’s general elections.
Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund could be the vehicle to ultimately go ahead with the deal if the BCCI agrees to it. No final decision has yet been made and both the parties refused a comment to the news site.
Why is Saudi eyeing an investment in IPL and not in any other Cricket League?
The Saudi officials are aware of the sentimental value of the sport in India. They are aware cricket is nothing less than a religion which unites everyone in the country.
Besides the sentimental value, IPL is the second richest league in the world with just the US’s National Football League (NFL) leading the front.
According to a recent report, IPL’s brand value has crossed the $3 Billion mark recently in 2023. IPL already has a large bunch of sponsors, including Aramco and the Saudi tourism authority.
IPL’s popularity is evident as bidders last year pumped in $6.2 Billion for the right to telecast the tournaments, which comes to $15 Million per match.
Glamour blitz and popularity for the sport is where IPL lies. The Saudi Arabia government are very well aware of the benefits IPL has including rapid rise in tourism and most pre-dominantly always increasing Season-on-Season (SoS) profits.
Is it a good investment for the Saudi Arabia?
Saudi Arabia has been an investment hub for many sports including football and cricket. The Saudi Pro League (SPL) which is a football league has not taken off very well credited to the arrival of many stars from Europe.
IPL might be the first major cricket investment undertaken by the Saudi. There are loads and loads of benefits for the Saudi if at all they invest in IPL.
The popularity of cricket in their region will sky-rocket and so will the brand value of IPL. According to major economists, if the investment goes through, the brand value will be estimated a close to $50 Billion mark making it the richest league on the planet.
(Photo by BCCI/IPL)
Will Saudi Arabia’s investment benefit IPL?
The economic point of view is nothing less than gold for the IPL and BCCI. With the investment falling through the ticket demand will likely rise by 2-3% per match coming purely from Saudi.
This will not only be a golden move economically but Saudi can later become a powerful Middle-East asset, considering the struggle going on with Qatar. The investment will definitely strengthen the business relations among the two nations.
The only area of question remains would the investment lead IPL to leave its home-ground for the stadiums in Saudi Arabia? There have been reports which have confirmed that Saudi has built cricket stadiums in coordination with the Indians.
Cricket is played both internationally and domestically with BCCI being a protagonist in both the formats. Will this investment kill all the competition IPL has? Domestic T20 leagues are played in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Australia, England, Afghanistan and a few more. Will the players commit themselves to IPL and IPL only?
The primary question remains, will Saudi Arabia’s investment change the schedule and format of cricket? For instance, football is played through out 10 months and international break is squeezed between the breaks given by the federations.
Will this huge investment see IPL being played through out the year, killing all other leagues and playing international cricket in ‘international breaks’?