Indian corporates' sports passion

The Indian sports scene has changed dramatically on the back of the Indian Premier League. Coupled with the trend taking place in the United Kingdom and other countries, it has become somewhat of a status symbol for wealthy individuals to own sporting teams.


Ambramovich, Malcolm Glazer, Mukesh Ambani, ...everyone is doing it! Ownership of teams brings individuals immediate international profile. It differentiates people and provides them a platform (that in most cases is supported by 12-15 globally revered stars!) on which to speak to the world. The P&L plays an important role but more often than not, it is about the status. They would say that this recognition is a reasonably cheap way to more often than not, endear themselves to a huge supporter base.


There is a business model here – both off the park and on it! Nonetheless, others might say that is blatant grandstanding, egos gone overboard or just plain glory seeking.


Regardless, the results are there for all to see. They are played out in front of the world often via internationally distributed broadcast rights, immense media attention and up to the second websites. 


The sporting world is changing. As in so many industries, India has not only caught up but overtaken these trends. The Indian Premier League is an amazing example of this. The ‘who’s who’ of corporate India has a stake at the table.


If my predictions are correct, the cricket world will be turned on its head in the next 5-10 years. Cricket is the only mainstream sport that survives via a competition based on Country v. Coutnry. Unlike all other team sports including football (EPL & other leagues), rugby (Super 15’s), rugby league (NRL), basketball (NBA), baseball (NBL), American football (NFL) cricket relies on bringing national teams together for competition.


The negatives associated with this model are many;


Irregular competition – who knows which teams are playing when. This model doesn’t maximise broadcast revenue.


Unbalanced competition – at any one time, only 2-3 teams are competitive with the top team. Traditionally one team dominates for years at a time.


Devalue World Events – a World Cup should be a premier event, anticipated by everyone and profiling the game internationally. This is not happening in cricket. The last few World Cups have been poorly run and reflected poorly on the sport. International teams should play each other every 3-4 years, not every week!


Player drain – players are forced to spend a majority of a given year offshore.


It is clear to me that cricket will shortly become a Club or Franchise based competition. Such a model will answer the negatives outlined above and provide an opportunity for others to share in the sport ie. own a piece of it!


We are about to see well organised provincial bodies become all that more important in the cricketing mix. No longer just a feeder organisation, these soon to be privately owned bodies will form the day to day competition featuring evenly matched teams.


Australia is a logical platform for this to occur. Competitions are well organised, the players are some of the best in the world and as State cricket bodies look to internationalise themselves we will soon see investment opportunities for savvy individuals and businesses.


India’s elite will be looking to own a piece of the Hong Kong Sharks cricket franchise?


Neil Maxwell - Director Insite