Melbourne: Cricket bosses welcomed the splashing of huge dollars by private investors, including Indian billionaires, in the IPL-style Big Bash League starting in 2012 even as Cricket Australia chief predicted the BBL to rival Kerry Packer`s World Series in the impact it will bring
to the game.
State cricket chiefs are delighted to the idea of private investors pumping huge sums of money to their sides. CA is a bit cautious in its approach though it is desperate to cash in on the Twenty20 gold rush with the advent of the Indian Premier League
A top official of New South Wales, one of the most powerful state cricket bodies in Australia, said CA is under massive pressure to accept private investors.
"The door to private investment was opened four years ago via the IPL and this has seen an influx of funds into the Board of Control for Cricket in India`s (BCCI) coffers whilst other countries simply provide their players and support this revenue growth in the process," the official said.
"While India has thrived, CA`s revenues have taken a hit given the GFC, the strength of the Australian dollar, with less tourists coming, and declining gates. Cricket needs an injection of capital that will allow it to compete for the younger audience and women the game desperately needs," he was quoted as saying.
CA board members will decide whether to accept private equity from Indian and other overseas investors as part of the ownership structure for each franchise.
Queensland chief executive Graham Dixon said the CA board, which is to decide on the issue, needed to give a clear directive to take the game forward.
"The indications which have been given is that there is a very strong financial argument why we must move forward, so that should be good," Dixon said.
"I don`t know we need a lot of detail. We just need to agree to the concept. Is there or is there not private investment? Then you go away to work out how you want that to work or not work."
Media reports said Australia`s most powerful cricket states NSW and Victoria will have Indian part-owners as they have already sold shares to giant Indian corporations for around USD 60 million in return for profits from the IPL-type eight-team Twenty20 tournament starting in January 2012.
`Daily Telegraph` said Brisbane-based Adani Group, which lost an IPL bid, is interested in buying stakes in an Australian side for the BBL.
Gautam Adani, the 10th-richest man in India with estimated personal wealth of USD 10 billion, is even looking at investing in Queensland coal mines and even buying the port of Brisbane, the newspaper said.
It quoted an Australian businessman of Indian origin as saying that the sort of money the cricket teams were talking about - between USD 5 million and USD 30m - was "very cheap" for these billionaires.
The newspaper said NSW Cricket has set up a separate business entity, known as Blues Inc, to run the state`s Twenty20 franchises, and Indian investors want a 49 per cent share of the company and have all but signed off on a figure of USD 30 million.