Dubai, Nov 24 (IANS) In an expansion to cricket in gulf countries, Reliance Industries Limited, through its subsidiary Reliance Strategic Business Ventures Ltd (RSBVL) will be acquiring the rights to own and operate a new franchise cricket team in the Emirates Cricket Board’s upcoming UAE T20 League, the organisers announced on Wednesday.
The move is the first major overseas expansion of Reliance Industries’ cricket operations in the global franchise-based cricket leagues. The company’s cricket business will now include two cricket clubs in addition to their other cricket related initiatives including sponsorship, consultancy, broadcast, and talent management.
Notaly, RIL, through Mumbai Indians, is also amongst the eight founding members of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
The current deal will see UAE’s T20 League benefit from the company’s commercial and cricket know-how, promising a new and exciting brand of cricket for the Emiratis along with the best learnings, experiences, and entertainment.
Chairman of the UAE T20 League and vice-chairman ECB Khalid Al Zarooni feels that RILs investment in UAE T20 League demonstrates the confidence of the corporate industry in UAE’s vision and ability to deliver a world class cricketing event.
“We aim to transform cricket in the UAE through the UAE T20 League. RIL has the legacy with a proven track record in establishing the most successful team in franchise cricket. Association of vanguard like RIL with the League demonstrates the confidence in our system and the strength of our infrastructure to deliver world class events,” said Zarooni in a release.
Over the last decade, the Rohit Sharma-led Mumbai Indians, which have its home ground at Wankhede Stadium, has emerged as the most consistent cricket franchise maintaining its Number Uno position with seven titles, which includes a record five trophies in IPL and two Champions League T20 titles.
“With great pride and joy, we take our Mumbai Indians brand of fearless cricket to a new geography. We are thankful to our fans, both in India and overseas, for supporting MI wholeheartedly. I look forward to strengthening and further expanding our global fanbase, and having a longer engagement with them through this new League,” said Nita Ambani, co-owner & architect of Mumbai Indians.
“While Mumbai Indians will continue to remain at the heart of our cricket operations, the popularity of global T20 leagues and attractiveness of the UAE market offer a unique opportunity for us to further unlock the value of our sports management expertise. It also allows us a platform to develop young international talent and share best practices both on and off the field,” she added.
UAE T20 League, sanctioned by Emirates Cricket Board will be held annually and to involve some of the biggest names in world cricket and provide a platform and exposure to upcoming young cricketers. For the initial few years, the League will feature 6 franchise teams competing in a 34-match event.
Having RIL on board to the UAE T20 League is the first in a series of other important announcements about the League to be made in the upcoming days.