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Stunning Prices for Cricket Teams Are A Milestone For Women’s Sports

Huge franchise fees and a seven-figure media deal for a new competition in India represent one of the biggest investments ever in a women’s sport.

The figures are astounding, even for a nation used to jaw-dropping prices for cricket teams: One of the largest one-day financial injections in the history of women’s sports occurred on Wednesday at a hotel in Mumbai during an auction for five teams in a new Indian women’s cricket league. The five new teams, which will make up the inaugural Women’s Premier League in March, were sold to local investors for a total of more than $570 million, according to a statement from the Board of Control for Cricket in India, one of the sport’s powerhouse nations.

According to recent transactions, the average price of the clubs ($114 million) exceeded appraisals in more prestigious American leagues like the W.N.B.A. This highlighted the enormity of the deals and the financial possibilities of the women’s game in the largest cricket market in the world. It also made the Women’s Premier League the most recent example of a women’s competition seeking to compete with the most lucrative men’s competitions in terms of attracting spectators, sponsors, and revenue.

Leading female cricketers could get the benefits first: When the teams fill their rosters in an auction the following month, they may probably anticipate that salaries will rise to new heights. The Indian women’s star Harmanpreet Kaur said on Twitter that “today signals a new era where our women cricketers will have the platform they deserve to thrive, excel, and evolve on the global arena.” You’ll be enthralled with our talent, I’m certain of it!

The B.C.C.I. utilized the same strategy when it sold eight franchises for a men’s league, the Indian Premier League, to private investors 15 years ago when it created the Women’s Premier League.

Due to the I.P.L.’s widespread appeal, the three-hour Twenty20 format of the game has transformed how cricket is played and viewed. Additionally, it has garnered nine-figure investments from a variety of investors, including Indian billionaires, foreign private equity firms, and major international media companies.

The most recent I.P.L. expansion franchises each sold for more than $700 million, and the new media rights agreement makes the I.P.L., behind the National Football League, the second most costly league in the world in terms of cost per game. According to Mustafa Ghouse, an executive from JSW, an Indian energy business that was one of the successful bidders, “it is going to have a significant impact on the women’s game in India and in the rest of the world.”

The Women’s Premier League was created as an I.P.L. sister league by the Board of Control for Cricket in India, or B.C.C.I. Three of the five franchises were acquired by I.P.L. club owners already in place. The owner of the Mumbai Indians, Reliance Industries, invested $112 million to expand its business to include the Mumbai women’s side. Diageo, the I.P.L. franchise owner of the Royal Challengers, provided a comparable sum for the Bangalore squad. 

For the new women’s side, which will also be situated in the capital, a joint venture between JSW and an infrastructure firm, GMR, which together own the Delhi franchise in the I.P.L., successfully bid $99 million. Newcomers to Indian cricket won the other two franchises: The Adani Group is an organization.

The Indian governing body originally announced the sale of media rights to the Women’s Premier League this month in order to increase the value of the franchise sales: Viacom18 purchased the five-year domestic broadcast and internet rights to the competition at a closed-bid auction for $116 million. That made the W.P.L., a month-long tournament that has yet to play a game, the second-most valued women’s sports league in the world, behind only the 12-team W.N.B.A, according to Jack Genovese of the media research company Ampere Analytics.

The existence of franchises that play in both the men’s and women’s leagues, according to Genovese, “helps to build on existing narratives and generates a sense of familiarity for the W.P.L.,” in addition to the sheer magnitude of the Indian market.

The world’s finest players will be invited to participate since a portion of the proceeds from the media rights sale will be used to pay player salaries. The base costs for 카지노사이트 players at the auction, a high-stakes market where clubs bid for individual players one at a time, are most likely to range from $12,000 to $60,000 for the four-week competition. However, wage amounts have yet to be confirmed by the B.C.C.I. The most sought-after athletes, including internationals from India Kaur and Shafali Verma as well as prominent foreign stars from England and Australia, are anticipated to make many times as much as the base salary.

Some critics have expressed worry that a small group of individuals at the top of the sport will receive a disproportionate share of the money that will flood into women’s cricket through the W.P.L. Raf Nicholson, a historian of women’s cricket at Bournemouth University in England, argued that it would be preferable to set up a competition that specifically aims to disperse income in women’s cricket. But regrettably, it appears that we are going down the same road as the males, which only serves to enrich the wealthy.

Others countered by saying that any additional financing should be applauded, especially for a sport where only a small number of players can afford to play professionally.

Daniel Norcross, a longtime producer of BBC coverage of women’s cricket, noted that many nations, even well-established ones like South Africa, cannot afford to keep their finest players. “The franchise leagues that are forming all over the world offer a better standard of living. That benefits the league’s host nation as well as other nations. India’s entry makes a significant influence. Suddenly, the sport can be a successful job.

Lizelle Lee of South Africa is one of the top international players who has retired from international competition in favor of competing in shorter competitions like the Hundred in England and the Women’s Big Bash League in Australia. The top salaries offered at the W.P.L. will now be significantly more than even those occasions.

The winning owners were given 10 years to pay their initial franchise costs to the B.C.C.I., while the governing body agreed to give the clubs 80% of the money from the first five-year media rights deal in an effort to secure the sustained profitability of the new Indian women’s league. Like in the I.P.L., teams will keep the majority of the money they make locally from sponsorships and merchandise sales.

The B.C.C.I. and Viacom18 face a challenge in getting people to pay attention to the women’s tournament, but both parties, including the team owners, assert that there is a demand for watching women’s cricket. For instance, a record-breaking crowd of over 47,000 people watched the Indian team play Australia in Mumbai in December. Additionally, Boria Majumdar, a cultural historian, observed that in years past, spectators would scale walls to see women’s exhibition games played before to I.P.L. games.

The five-team tournament might only be the start. After at least nine groups who filed bids failed to win the initial five franchises, the B.C.C.I. has stated that it intends to add more teams. According to Norcross, the B.C.C.I. decided to limit the original W.P.L. to five clubs because it was concerned about the talent pool’s depth. He said, though, that “any worries will disappear fairly soon when the spectacle happens.”

“When there are up to five overseas players and several Indian internationals in each side,” he added, “there will be more than enough talent to create really high-quality games. And that will drive the expansion.”.

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