The global footprint of the IPL is expanding swiftly with its franchise owners set to buy all six teams in South Africa’s new T20 league, the inaugural edition of which is scheduled for January 2023.
ESPNcricinfo has learned that Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings, Lucknow Super Giants, Sunrisers Hyderabad, Rajasthan Royals and one of the owners of Delhi Capitals have successfully bid for the franchises. The league will be run by Cricket South Africa in partnership with television broadcaster SuperSport.
It is understood that CSK, through parent company Chennai Super Kings Sports Limited, made the highest bid at an informal auction to buy the Johannesburg franchise. Mumbai Indians, owned by Reliance Industries, bought the Cape Town franchise, while the Sun TV Group, which owns Sunrisers, bought the Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth) franchise.
The RP Sanjeev Goenka group, which paid a record sum of INR 7090 crore to buy the Lucknow IPL franchise late last year, picked up the Durban team, while Rajasthan Royals bought the Paarl team. Pretoria has been taken by Jindal South West Sports, which is headed by Parth Jindal, co-owner of the Delhi Capitals in IPL.
“I’m extremely honoured to be entrusted with leading this exciting new venture,” Smith said. “I’m deeply committed to South African cricket and happy to serve the game as best I can. I’m excited by the opportunity to deliver the new league, which I believe will be an extremely competitive product, one that can bring the much-needed investment into the game and provide new opportunities for players around the world and more importantly to our SA home grown talent.
“The response from stakeholders has been very positive thus far and we’ve made great progress in the initial stages. We’re determined to deliver a valuable, sustainable and appealing tournament for South African cricket.”
Third time lucky?
“This new league promises to make a significant investment into both professional cricket and development in South Africa, along with a positive socio-economic and tourism injection into the country,” CSA’s chief executive officer Pholetsi Moseki said.
IPL franchise owners go global
With the league still in its early planning stages, it could not be confirmed whether CSA will conduct a player auction or draft to form the six teams. Another question is whether the BCCI will make an allowance for Indian players to participate in the league. So far the BCCI has barred Indian players from featuring in the T20 leagues of other countries to protect the IPL brand.
There is no such restriction on the IPL franchise owners, who have steadily made acquisitions in overseas T20 leagues. Red Chillies Entertainment, the owners of Kolkata Knight Riders, were the first to buy an overseas T20 franchise – the Trinbago Knight Riders in the Caribbean Premier League. In 2020, KPH Dream Cricket Private Limited, the consortium that owns Punjab Kings, bought the St Lucia Kings and last year the owners of Rajasthan Royals – the Royals Sports Group – bought the Barbados team in the CPL.
Red Chillies Entertainment, co-owned by Bollywood actors Shah Rukh Khan, Juhi Chawla and her husband Jay Mehta, has also bought a team in UAE’s T20 League – the International League T20 (ILT20). Reliance Strategic Business Ventures Limited, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited, the owners of Mumbai Indians, and the GMR Group – a co-owner of Delhi Capitals – have also bought teams in the ILT20. The UAE league is scheduled between January 6 and February 12 next year and will clash with the South African league.
The Knight Riders brand also has a presence in the USA, where it is among the founding members of Major League Cricket, a franchise-based T20 League scheduled to be launched from 2023. There is at least one more IPL franchise that is keep on entering the Major League T20, but has not yet formally closed the agreement.
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo