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ECB chair Richard Thompson expresses desire to host IPL matches in England

London, Sep 10 (IANS) The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has expressed its desire to hold Indian Premier League (IPL) games in the country in the future as the lucrative domestic T20 tournament looks to expand, said a report in mirror.co.uk quoting the Telegraph.

New ECB chair Richard Thompson has drawn comparison with the NBA and NFL, who play some of their games in the UK, and hoped that England could stage IPL matches in the future as well, with the cricket’s governing body in the country hoping to double attendances from two million to four million.

“The NBA and NFL come here, so why can’t we host the IPL? The IPL has grown its window by another three weeks and I don’t think it cannibalises other competitions because (many England) players are playing in it anyway,” Thompson was quoted as saying in the report.

Thompson added he hopes to put cricket “on an equal footing (with) football”. “We have seen the value when India and Pakistan are playing over here during World Cups and Champions Trophies,” he added, indicating the ECB wants to cash in on the Asian fan base in the country.

Last year, the ECB had reportedly held talks with the Indian cricket board and IPL officials about franchises playing games at The Oval and Lord’s. The report said the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, had supported the venture.

“Surrey are speaking to teams in India and colleagues in the BCCI and IPL,” Khan said. “The first step will be friendlies and exhibition matches.

“We want to get them going, maybe even this year if we make progress as we are doing with the pandemic. It has to be Covid-safe, of course. We have to bang the drum for our city, and sport is one way to do this.”

Surrey and the MCC, who own Lord’s, have said that hosting IPL matches would be great for the sport in the country. “We support the Mayor of London’s ambitions to bring the Indian Premier League to London and are keen to work with the administration to make this a reality,” they said.

“The incredible energy, diversity and passion of the crowds at both our venues during the Men’s ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 demonstrated London’s extraordinary potential as a home for global games. Following in the footsteps of the NFL and MLB by bringing one of the world’s largest leagues to the capital, would be a hugely exciting project for our city and the wider game in this country,” they added.

–IANS

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