Saudi Arabia has signaled a keen interest in making a substantial investment, up to $5 billion, in the Indian Premier League (IPL) with the goal of extending the league’s global footprint.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman engaged in discussions with Indian government officials in September during his visit, exploring the possibility of incorporating the IPL into a holding company valued at a staggering $30 billion.
The Saudi government is contemplating a major investment in the IPL, considered the world’s most lucrative cricket league. Talks during the Crown Prince’s visit have added weight to the potential deal.
Despite the absence of an official statement from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which looks after the IPL, fans await a decision following next year’s elections.
The outcome of these discussions will determine the feasibility of this substantial investment. If approved, Saudi Arabia’s substantial wealth fund is ready to play a pivotal role in executing the investment. Importantly, no final decision has been reached, and both parties have opted to maintain silence on the matter for now.
The IPL, known as one of the wealthiest sports leagues all around the world since its beginning in 2008, consistently attracts top players and coaches. With industry giants like Aramco and the Saudi Tourism Authority among its sponsors, the IPL sold its broadcasting rights for a staggering $6.2 billion last year, translating to $15.1 million per match. This places the IPL second only to the US National Football League and ahead of the English Premier League.
If Saudi Arabia expresses interest and proceeds, analysts anticipate that the IPL will undergo significant modifications to its media rights agreements. The IPL’s success has led to efforts to replicate its model globally, with attempts at establishing similar leagues in the US, UAE, and South Africa, backed by influential figures like Satya Nadella and Shantanu Narayen. Saudi Arabia’s potential involvement could mark a transformative moment for the IPL, cementing its position as a major player on the global sports stage.