Saudis play high stake sport, eye piece of IPL pie

Some of the top footballers like Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Karim Benzema are plying their trade in there.
Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (Photo |AP)
Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (Photo |AP)

CHENNAI: After football, Formula One and golf, Saudi Arabia have turned their attention towards cricket, the most lucrative and popular sport in the continent.

According to reports, Saudi Arabia is keen on investing at least $5 billion in the Indian Premier League that is projected to be valued at $30 billion. But the IPL is not a holding company as yet.

It is reported that the talks were initiated with the Indian government when Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince visited India in September last year. According to Bloomberg, “Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s advisers have sounded out Indian government officials about moving the IPL into a holding company valued at as much as $30 billion, in which Saudi Arabia would then take a significant stake, people familiar with the matter said.”

The report said that the Gulf nation has expressed interest in buying a multibillion-dollar stake in the IPL and that the Indian government and cricketing body might take a call after the general elections next year.

The country has already invested heavily in football and golf. Some of the top footballers like Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Karim Benzema are plying their trade there. The BCCI did not want to comment, and if sources are to be believed, it apparently is not involved in any such discussions. To put it in context, the National Basketball Association and the National Football League, the other rich leagues, are private companies.

This is not the first time that Saudi Arabia has shown interest in IPL. This year in April there were reports that Saudi Arabia were in talks with some IPL franchises to start a league on similar lines in the country. Saudi Tourism Authority was a sponsor during the IPL this year.

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