Decks have been cleared for Indian investors to get their fingers into the Australian cricket pie.
Cricket Australia (CA) on Friday approved private investments in its revamped IPL-style T20 tournament — the eight-team Big Bash League — that begins next year. The decision paves the way for Indian companies and individuals to become minority stakeholders of the teams.
“The board has approved investment of minority holdings in each of the respective teams and the details of that will be further contemplated in the coming weeks,” CA chief executive James Sutherland said after the Cricket Australia board meeting here.
Explaining the share of private investment, the CA chief executive told cricinfo: “The board has taken a position that it will be less than 49% (minority share), probably more likely to be 33%.”
Sutherland insisted that the states would remain in control of the six current teams, which will convert to city sides, as well as the two new clubs. However, he added: “All of the teams may well have private investment, we’ll see how things unfold and what expressions of interest may come through in terms of investment.”
Media reports in Australia had earlier claimed that Indian companies such as the Adani group, real estate giants Dheeraj and East Coast and even Kolkata Knight Riders part-owner Jai Mehta are waiting to splash big sums of money in the eight Big Bash franchisees.
On Friday, The Australian said each of the eight Big Bash teams could be worth twice as much as the Brisbane Broncos, one of the most popular football clubs in the country and recently valued at $ 36 million (R 156 crore) on the stock exchange.
Sutherland said: “I think it’s interesting to see the sort of values one might place on these teams based on the investor interest; certainly compared to other sporting franchises or teams around this country it puts these Big Bash teams at an all new level and as high a value as any sporting team in the country.”
The CA believes the Big Bash can revolutionise the game just like the Kerry Packer World Series did three decades ago, but Sutherland said the new league should not be seen as a competitor to the hugely successful IPL.
“I don’t think we see ourselves as a competitor to the IPL (in terms of player earnings) and certainly the revenues that the Cricket Australia Big Bash League can generate. In a small market such as Australia it’s not going to be the same as the IPL,” Sutherland said. “But at the same time this league is on the international stage.”
Adani, KKR deny interest
A day after the Australian press reported that Indian businessmen Gautam Adani, Jai Mehta and Dheeraj Wadhawan could be eyeing stakes in Australian Big Bash league franchises, Gautam Adani denied any such plans.
Speaking to the Hindustan Times, Adani said, “This is baseless news; we are not thinking of buying any cricket team in Australia.”
Adani, who heads Adani Enterprises and was also planning to buy an IPL franchise, is reportedly looking to buy coal mines in Queensland state and even the port of Brisbane.
Although Jai Mehta, who is the co-owner of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), was unavailable for comment, a source in the KKR camp also denied any plans to invest in Australian cricket.
The BCCI and the Indian Premier League, meanwhile, did not comment on the matter. Ratnakar Shetty refused to say anything, while IPL CEO, Sundar Raman said, “I haven’t heard about it. So I have nothing to say.”