The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 remains the most lucrative T20 league in the world. Be it in terms of finances it involves, the participation of world-class players, or the presence on social media, the IPL remains unmatched when compared to other T20 leagues around the globe. However, things could change soon as Saudi Arabia has reportedly offered IPL owners the opportunity to set up the "world's richest T20 league" in the country. Having invested heavily in other sports like football and Formula 1, Saudi Arabia now has its eyes on cricket.
At present, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) bars Indian players from participating in leagues abroad. However, a proposal from the Saudi Arabian government over a new T20 league being set up there could see the Indian board change its stance on the matter.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, talks regarding the T20 league have already been underway for nearly a year. To set up the T20 league, the fifth-largest country in Asia must get the approval of the International Cricket Council (ICC) and its members.
As per a report in The Age, the talks have been going on over the subject for about a year. But, before anything substantial can happen, the league would need to be sanctioned by the International Cricket Council (ICC). Not too long ago, ICC chairman Greg Barclay had confirmed Saudi Arabian interest in cricket.
“They’re pretty keen” – Greg Barclay on Saudi Arabia's interest in cricket after SA20 and ILT20 success ft. IPL
ICC Chairman Greg Barclay recently spoke about Saudi Arabia’s interest in sports. He reckons that cricket will work out well in the country.
“If you look at other sports they’ve been involved in, cricket is something I imagine would be attractive to them. Given their advance into the 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.”
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.
“Our aim is to create a sustainable industry for locals and expats living in the Kingdom and make Saudi Arabia a global cricketing destination," Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation chairman Prince Saud bin Mishal Al-Saud told Arab News last month.
As per the report, a number of representatives of the Saudi government and businesses have been spotted around India's cricketing activities, looking to get the IPL owners and the BCCI itself into their planned Twenty20 league which would stand neck-to-neck with the IPL in terms of financial prowess.
The possibilities of staging the annual Asia Cup, the opening match, or even a round of the IPL in Saudi Arabia are also reportedly in the plans.
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.