O'Brien fears Hong Kong will be left out if the IPL Twenty20 format expands overseas
Hong Kong will be badly placed to secure a franchise if the IPL Twenty20 format expands in the future, says Seamus O'Brien, president of World Sports Group, the company which holds the billion-dollar TV rights for the new tournament.
O'Brien (pictured) conceded it was a possibility that franchises - now entirely based in India - would move overseas in the future.
But he said Hong Kong's geographical position, and a lack of international-sized grounds in the city would make it hard for a franchise to be based here. 'It is possible that the IPL will expand in the future. I can see franchises emerging in places like Dubai and Singapore. But it would be difficult for Hong Kong to be a franchise owner,' O'Brien said. 'For one thing, Hong Kong is too far from India and the other is that it doesn't have a ground capable of hosting an international match,' O'Brien said.Hong Kong cricket officials are looking for a suitable venue for an international-sized venue with one possibility being the Mission Road ground. But if the IPL does expand, Hong Kong will still be at a disadvantage over rivals like Dubai and Singapore in terms of flying time to India.
Singapore sports officials are already looking ahead to the days when an IPL franchise could be based in the city. A contract to build the Singapore Sports Hub will be signed this month and work will begin on a new national stadium, which is due to be finished by the end of 2011.
World Sports Group, which is based in Singapore, is part of the Singapore Sports Hub Consortium, which has plans to hold day-night Twenty20 games.
Dubai is also building a cricket stadium, while another city-state in the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, is also cricket mad.
With a sizeable expatriate population from the subcontinent in these cities, it is most likely that if the IPL decides to expand overseas, it will be these cities which are the front-runners to own new franchises.