New Delhi: It is time the BCCI allows IPL teams to play exhibition games overseas in off-season as it will only strengthen what is already a strong product, feels Punjab Kings co-owner Ness Wadia. The IPL emerged as a global brand after the bidding for two teams last month fetched more than USD 1.5 billion and attracted bids even from the Manchester United owners who eventually lost out to RPSG Group and CVC capital partners, the owners of Lucknow and Ahmedabad franchise respectively. Speaking to PTI, Wadia is not surprised by the massive amounts shelled out by investors to enter IPL. He also said constant innovation is the need of the hour in any business and he is confident that the BCCI will continue to break new barriers. “The BCCI must consider having off season matches to be held in places where there is a big Indian diaspora. That will grow the IPL even more. A bunch of three or five games in the off season based on player availability.
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“Hypothetically, allow the top four franchisees every year to play a few games in, for example, Miami or in Toronto or in Singapore. It will only strengthen what already is a strong product,” said Wadia. After the windfall from the IPL team auction, the BCCI could pocket double of the USD 2.5 billion it earned from the broadcasting rights in the previous cycle. The 2023-2027 cycle could fetch as much USD 5 billion and Wadia too is confident of the IPL attracting that number.
About the two teams going for more than USD 1.5 billion, Wadia said the IPL finally got its due. “I don’t think the numbers are mindboggling. Sport is big business now. It is a good investment. The league truly deserves it. These are serious businessmen we are talking about. They invest in things with a purpose. “It has taken us 14 years to reach where the league deserves to be. I am happy that it has finally happened.”
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Asked if the valuation of the existing franchise has also gone up to a billion USD in his view, Wadia said: “It could be even slightly more.” However, Wadia is worried about the health of Indian players who have been playing constantly in both IPL and international cricket in bio-bubbles. “The only concern is about physical and mental fatigue of the Indian players of all franchises, they have been in bubbles since last September. Mental fatigues of these players have to be factored in,” he added.
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