Financial success of IPL shows cricket league has become a global player

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 April, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 April, 2010, 12:00am

When Portsmouth owner Balram Chainrai made his sojourn to India last week to speak to prospective investors in the club, he was going to a country where one sport was generating huge amounts of cash.

Cricket is a religion in India, but the huge financial success of the Indian Premier League (IPL) has backers now looking at other sports such as soccer. The IPL is the largest Indian global brand with an independent evaluation set at US$4.5 billion. To put the figures in perspective, one of the new franchise owners, Sahara, paid US$370m for the franchise - about 14 per cent more than the current owners of Liverpool paid for the soccer club in 2007.

The inaugural Annual Review of Global Sports Salaries, published last week, shows that the second highest-paid league, based on first-team salaries on a pro-rata basis, is the IPL.

The IPL's average salary, calculated over a year, is GBP2.5 million (HK$26 million), second only to the American National Basketball Association league, whose annual average salary is GBP2.62 million. The English Premier League comes fourth in the list at GBP1.46 million.

The fact that the IPL is played only over a six-week period makes what cricketers earn for playing Twenty20 matches an astronomical sum. With this in mind, Chainrai will be hopeful that Indian soccer lovers will also be dipping into their pockets, as well, before too long.