The five franchises for the new Women’s Indian T20 league have been sold at an auction in Mumbai for a combined price of £475 million, much more than were originally expected.
That was more than the franchises of the men’s equivalent tournament went for in 2008, and reflects the interest in the new tournament, with over 30 companies picking up the initial Invitation to Tender.
And with the media rights for the first 5 year cycle of the tournament having recently been sold to Viacom 18, it means that the nascent competition is on a sound financial footing before a ball has been bowled.
The successful bidders
Three of the successful bidders are already owners of male teams in the Indian T20 men’s league – the Royal Challengers Bangalore, the Mumbai Indians, and the Delhi Capitals. The other two to have picked up a franchise are the Adani Group and Capri Global.
For the Indians and the Capitals, this represents the latest additions to growing portfolios.
The also own franchises in the inaugural SA20 tournament in South Africa, the Pretoria Capitals and MI Cape Town.
Who Missed Out
Four other existing men’s franchise owners missed out though – the Kolkata Knight Riders, the Punjab Kings, the Rajasthan Royals, and the Sunrisers Hyderabad. Also unsuccessful was a bid by the current owners of Manchester United, the Glazer family.
The Adani Group
The Adani Group is an Indian conglomerate headquartered in Ahmedabad,
Its market capitalisation recently passed that of the Tata Group and more than 60% of its revenues are derived from coal related businesses. It employs more than 100,000 people worldwide.
The group has already established a large sporting footprint, through its subsidiary Adani Sportsline.
They helped back and support a number of Indian athletes for the Rio Olympics, own the Gujarat Giants in the Pro Kabaddi League, and have set-up a Football Academy in Chhattisgarh.
They have also become involved in boxing and kho-kho, all under the banner name the Gujarat Giants (it will be no surprise if the new team were to bear this name!).
In terms of cricket, they have naming rights at the new cricket stadium in Ahmedabad, and, last year, acquired the Gulf Giants in the UAE International League T20. They also bought one of the franchises in Legends League Cricket.
Capri Global is part of Capri Loans, an Indian based Non-Financial Banking Company (NFBC).
They are listed on both the Bombay and the National Stock Exchanges.
The group were unsuccessful bidders for the two new franchises for the men’s league, which eventually became the Gujarat Titans, and the Lucknow Super Giants. However, like the Adani Group, they do already own a cricket team in the IL T20, the Sharjah Warriors.
They also have some involvement in Kabaddi as sponsors of the Bengal Warriors, and they also own a kho-kho team, the Rajasthan Warriors.
League now taking shape
The new league, which is expected to begin in early March is now starting to take shape.
The next major stage is the player auction which is expected to be held at the beginning of next month, although the player registration process has already begun/
Each team can sign up to seven overseas players, although only five can be included in the starting XI, one of whom must be from an Associate Member country.
Already a number of top English players have indicated their willingness to participate in the tournament, with players like spinner Sophie Ecclestone and all-rounder Nat Sciver expected to fetch some of the highest prices at auction.
A landmark moment for the women’s game
Although there are some question marks about the future – will international cricket suffer as a result, and are there are female cricketers to meet the growing demand from franchise leagues – the positives far out-weigh the negatives.
After years of false dawns, the new tournament should not only confirm the widespread interest in the women’s game, but should encourage a whole new generation of girls, both in India, and overseas, to take up the game.
And that can only raise standards all round and make the whole product more attractive. Already it is easy to envisage that the tournament will expand, new franchises will be added, and that they will be sold for even more money.
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