Saudi Arabia, April 14, 2023: The Saudi Arabian government is planning to set up the world’s richest T20 League in the Gulf region, and they have proposed plans regarding the same to owners of the Indian Premier League. Saudi Arabian government has been actively investing in multiple sports, having made their way into Formula 1 with the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as well as the LIV Golf, their next goal is to maximise the untapped potential of cricket.
The Gulf state is planning to come up with the richest T20 league in the world, and they have approached the IPL owners regarding the same, having come on board as sponsors for the IPL 2023 season.
Under the current rules of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Indian players are not allowed to participate in overseas T20 leagues, and the proposal from the Saudi Arabian government representatives for their richest T20 league might have to convince BCCI to mend its rules.
According to a report in The Age, talks regarding the Saudi Arabian league have been underway for nearly a year now, and any potential league formed in the Gulf would have to be sanctioned by the International Cricket Council (ICC), and the member countries, including Australia.
Having invested heavily in major sports and events across the world, including the takeover of Premier League club Newcastle United by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the Gulf state has often been criticized for trying to whitewash their human rights record through their investments in sports.
Earlier, ICC Chairman Greg Barclay had confirmed that Saudi Arabia are looking to invest heavily in cricket, after pumping funds into others sports like football and F1.
“If you look at other sports they’ve been involved in, cricket is something I imagine would be attractive to them," said Barclay.
“Given their advance into sport more generally, cricket would work quite well for Saudi Arabia. They’re pretty keen to invest in sport, and given their regional presence, cricket would seem a pretty obvious one to pursue," he added.
The report also adds that Saudi Arabia is looking to strengthen its relationships with India through cricket, and the former hopes to become the number 1 tourist destination for Indians by the year 2030.
Currently, United Arab Emirates has been the go-to nation whenever matches are hosted in the gulf, with UAE having hosted the IPL as well when the Covid-19 outbreak in India forced the league to be held outside the subcontinent.
UAE also launched their own T20 league last year, the ILT20 with many IPL owners becoming stakeholders in the same.
However, Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation chairman Prince Saud bin Mishal Al-Saud hopes to Saudi can become a ‘global cricket destination’ in the upcoming years.