Saudi Arabia Eying IPL: A First Global Deal for Indian Sports Industry The investment will see IPL be valued at around USD 30 billion, where Saudi Arabia takes a significant stake. The move, if finalised, could see IPL surpass the NFL, which is valued at USD 25 billion, to become the richest league in the world
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Over a short span of time, Saudi Arabia has emerged as one of the most active countries in the world, committed to investing in professional sports. And their next bet is India's premier T20 league- the IPL.
Reportedly, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's advisers have expressed interest to Indian government officials. The investment will see IPL be valued at around USD 30 billion, where Saudi Arabia takes a significant stake. The move, if finalised, could see IPL surpass the NFL, which is valued at USD 25 billion, to become the richest league in the world.
Bloomberg reports that the deal could see the Prince invest up to USD five billion in IPL. This could help IPL expand to other markets such as the Middle East, just like the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League.
The Indian government and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the cricket apex body, are yet to take a call. The decision will be finalized post next year's Lok Sabha elections, the people familiar with the matter said. A pivotal role in BCCI is played by Jay Shah, BCCI Secretary and the son of India's Home Minister Amit Shah.
The concluded 16th edition of the tournament saw Chennai Super Kings emerge victorious. Disney Star, the official television broadcaster of IPL, reported clocking a cumulative reach of 30.7 crore viewers for the first 10 matches. The tournament saw an advertising revenue of INR 10,120 crore this season.
Besides cricket, Saudi and other Middle Eastern countries are making investments in other sports. Saudi shook the footballing world earlier this year when they signed players from top leagues to play in the Saudi Pro League. The likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Benzema and other top names are representing Saudi clubs.
Previously, Qatar hosted the FIFA 2022 World Cup late last year. Recently, Saudi Arabia won the hosting rights for the 2034 FIFA World Cup, unopposed which is a big step towards developing sports in Saudi and Middle East. The Middle East plans to host around 25 events across different sports by 2030, which includes working on homegrown talents and making investments in foreign leagues.
Saudi also expressed interest in golf, and are looking to invest USD one billion in PGA and go for a merger, which has shocked the golfing world.
Would India see more such investments?
Talking about India, the country plans to showcase its ability to host sporting events, as the government of India recently announced that they would bid for the 2030 Youth Olympics and 2036 Olympics. India will play a big role at the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic games as the International Olympic Committee officially announced cricket will be returning as one of the categories after 128 years.
Recently, the premier bike racing event, MotoGP, debuted in India. Noida's Buddh International Circuit hosted the event from September 21-24. The success of it can potentially result in F1 returning to India in 2025. In 2013, the then F1 Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel won his fourth and final title at the Buddh International Circuit.