Franchise-based T20 League planned in US in 2012

Mumbai: An Indian-owned, Singapore-based business firm has inked a deal jointly with the United States of America Cricket Association (USACA) and New Zealand Cricket (NZC) to start a franchise-based Twenty20 League in the US in 2012 with the backing of the International Cricket Council.

Podar Holdings International Pte Limited and Top Bloom Corporation Limited have become foundation partners in an agreement signed with the USACA, NZC and Australian sports marketing firm Insite to grow cricket exponentially in one of ICC`s target markets, a media release said.

The agreement signed on December 18 in Los Angeles establishes Cricket Holdings America LLC as holder of majority of the commercial rights to cricket in the United States.

The rights include the potentially valuable Twenty20 rights and the ability to stage a franchise based T20 League which is scheduled for June 2012 with six teams, the release stated.

ICC`s Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat has welcomed the development.

"The ICC has long considered the United States as a strategically key market for the growth of the game. We are extremely supportive of the new partnership and their efforts to grow cricket within the United States. We wish them all the best," Lorgat said.

"The United States has a huge potential to grow the game and is going to be one of the biggest destinations for cricket. Cricket Holdings America LLC is exciting news for the game globally, in particular to fans around the world," said Rajiv Podar, Director of Podar Holdings International.

"The Podars are happy to be associated with this venture and we are committed investors to build value in the long term," he added.

NZC Chief Executive Justin Vaughan said he saw the initiative as a means to increase its coffers.

"With a population of four million, New Zealand is a limited market place. We have historically `punched above our weight` through leadership and innovation. Cricket Holdings America LLC is a significant step in diversifying our long-term revenue base," he said.

As part of the partnership, NZC will contribute a range of management, development and coaching resources," Vaughan added.

USACA president Gladstone Dainty felt the deal would enable the nation`s cricket body to develop the game from the grassroots to the higher level by paving the way for private American investment into it.

"This agreement provides USACA with the ability to grow the game from `grassroots` to the elite level. It has opened doors for private investment into cricket in America, one of the more exciting new market opportunities for the ICC," he said.

"Importantly, it will provide a sustainable revenue stream for the development of the game and secondly, we shall be supported by the knowledge and expertise that comes from a full member country like New Zealand.

"It is also worth noting that the US broadcast market has huge potential. It has historically been the second highest rights payer behind India. By growing cricket in our country we are not only benefiting Cricket Holdings America LLC but all ICC member nations," he added.


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