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Indian cash in Oz league?

cricket Updated: Oct 29, 2010 01:13 IST
HT Correspondent/Agencies
HT Correspondent/Agencies
Hindustan Times
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Indian investors have reportedly set their sights on grabbing a share in Australia’s soon-to-be revamped T20 competition. Cricket Australia are all set to start an IPL-like tournament from January 2012, and Indian investors have reportedly already approached two state associations — New South Wales and Victoria — with big offers to buy stakes in the sides.

The names of Adani group, which failed to win a franchise in the IPL, and Dheeraj and East Coast – a real estate giant that’s already the main sponsor of Victoria, are doing the rounds in the Australian media as the interested investors.

The Australian claimed that these two sides have also been in talks with Jai Mehta, the co-owner of the Kolkata Knight Riders.

However, there’s a major obstacle to be surmounted before the Indian investors could get their fingers into the Australian pie. Cricket Australia is yet undecided on whether to accept private equity from Indian or other overseas investors as part of the ownership of Australian teams.

It will meet on Friday to decide on what could change the landscape of the Australian cricket. No matter what the CA decides, they will be under tremendous pressure from the states to give green signal to the foreign investment.

Even as CA is getting ready to discuss the issue, the Daily Telegraph, an Australian daily, claimed that New South Wales and Victoria have already sold shares to giant Indian corporations for around 60 million dollars (59 million US). The newspapers said that Cricket Australia, keen to cash in on the IPL T20 phenomenon, is looking at starting a new city-based competition in 12 months.

“It's a moment as big, if not bigger, than the Kerry Packer moment when his role resulted in ODI cricket taking off and basically funding the development of Australian and world cricket for 25 or so years,” CA spokesman Peter Young told The Daily Telegraph.

The Telegraph said Indian investors want a 49 percent share of a NSW Cricket business entity, known as Blues Inc, for around 30-35 million dollars (R120-140cr). “The Twenty20 franchises in Australia could eventually be worth 80 million dollars each,” an unnamed source told the newspaper.

According to the newspapers, overseas stars from India, England, the West Indies and South Africa will be offered huge contracts to play in a tournament that will replace Australia's traditional one-day cricket over January and February.

Cricket Victoria said late Thursday that it had not sold any properties “to date as per claims in some reports”.

“Cricket Victoria is extremely excited about the future Twenty20 cricket in Australia, and continuing to be a successful force in this format into the future,” Cricket Victoria chief executive Tony Dodemaide in a statement.

“There has been some interest in potential partnership opportunities and should the eventual new competition structure in Australia allow for these types of arrangements, CV may consider them further if they are in the best interests of Victorian cricket.

“Speculation of the terms of these opportunities is premature as the structure and terms of engagement in the competition is yet to be determined.”