IPL owners aim for a piece of SA T20 pie

Among the almost 60 bids for the eight franchise teams were at least three from IPL franchises eager to claim more exposure for their brands and sponsors.

There may have been a thought that $300 million might be enough to spend on one cricket team but, at around a tenth of the price, South Africa’s Global Destinations T20 teams are a bargain.

Remember, too, that IPL teams have only a 6-7 week window in which to make a return on their massive investment and having a second team in another globally televised tournament will double the television window for their sponsors and drive up revenue.

This process of franchise amalgamation has already started with the acquisition of the Trinidad and Tobago franchise in the Caribbean Premier League by the Kolkata Knight Riders forming the Trinbago Knight Riders. The hugely successful Kolkata based corporation has also bid for a South African team and, if successful, would become one of the most televised sporting outfits on earth. And one of the richest. And most powerful.

It is just a short step away cricket moving forever towards the worldwide soccer model in which clubs dominate the fixture list and international football is wedged into small windows for continental championships and the World Cup.

It would take a leap of bizarre national loyalty for any player, of any age, to decline an annual contract from a global franchise brand in order to sign a national contract which would inevitably be financially far less competitive. Already the best West Indian players are all ‘freelance’ and it seems just a matter of time before the boards of the more efficient and profitable nations start losing their best players as well.

The Global Destinations League will be a great success and there is a great deal to be excited about. One of the less appealing by products of South Africa joining the T20 revolution will be the accelerated decline of bilateral series between nations. If they do continue they attract far less interest and revenue from broadcasters and the decline will spiral until they become financially un-viable.

The ICC and its directors – effectively the Member Nations – had an opportunity to fix the situation with the formation of formal Test and ODI leagues involving all 10 Test nations, perhaps even 12, and an ODI Championship involving 14 or 15 with a massively increased prize money pool. But they dithered for five years and that opportunity now appears to have disappeared.

It probably shouldn’t be a surprise. The leagues, after all, are commercially successful. And they are owned, of course, by the Member nations who have always been motivated most by a busy cash register.

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