BCCI mops up Rs 4,670 crore from sale of 5 WPL teams

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) raked in about Rs 4,670 crore from the sale of five franchises for the inaugural Women’s Premier League (WPL).

The Adani Group has emerged as the highest bidder from the closed-door bidding by offering Rs 1,289 crore for the Ahmedabad team while Reliance Industries Limited subsidiary Indiawin Sports won the WPL Mumbai team with the second-highest bid of Rs 912.99 crore. Diageo India-owned Royal Challengers Sports, the owner of RCB, acquired the Bengaluru franchise for Rs 901 crore and Delhi Capitals owner, JSW GMR Cricket, bagged the Delhi franchise for Rs 810 crore. Finance company Capri Global Holdings became the owner of the Lucknow franchise, with a Rs 757 crore bid. The BCCI has awarded the franchises for a period of 10 years.

The first edition of WPL, the women’s T20 franchise cricket league in India, will be played in March, after player auctions are held next month. The bidding for the WPL teams, which surpassed the Rs 2,852 crore that the BCCI generated from the auction of Indian Premier League teams in 2008, followed the record Rs 951 crore five-year media rights deal that the cricket board signed with Viacom18.

Pranav Adani, director, Adani Enterprises, said, “Cricket is an inseparable part of the country’s fabric and Adani Sportsline was keen to begin its association with the sport with the inaugural edition of the Women’s Premier League.”

Mumbai Indians owner Nita Ambani said, “This new women’s league will once again shine a global spotlight on the talent, power, and potential of our girls. I’m sure our Women’s MI team will take the Mumbai Indians brand of fearless and entertaining cricket to a new level altogether.”

Just like Adani Sportsline, Capri Global Holdings had missed out on an IPL franchise in 2021, when the BCCI auctioned two new teams.

BCCI secretary Jay Shah said 16 parties had placed bids for the five WPL franchises. “The entire bidding process was videographed and it was signed by individual bidders and each particular bid was opened by the bidders only in front of everyone,” he said.Shah said it was a significant day for women’s cricket after the success of WPL media rights sale and the implementation of pay parity between men and women cricketers. “WPL has become the second most valued cricket league in the world after IPL,” he said.

JSW Sports founder Parth Jindal tweeted, “Proud to announce that @TheJSWGroup GMR Group and @DelhiCapitals are the proud owners of the Delhi Women’s IPL team. This marks a historic moment for Indian cricket and for the women’s game and we could not be more proud to own the Delhi Capitals WIPL franchise!”

IPL chairman Arun Dhumal said the total bid value from WPL surpassed the value that IPL generated in 2008 when eight teams were auctioned. “The WPL valuation is more than the IPL if you calculate it on the basis of multiple and put inflation into that (adjust it for inflation),” he said.

A representative of one of the losing bidders, however, said that bidding for WPL teams defied profit-and-loss logic. “The WPL team bidding was driven by vanity rather than return on investments. It will be very difficult to become profitable even if the value of the next media rights cycle sees a big bump-up,” said the person, who did not wish to be identified.

In the case of IPL team owners, the person said, the logic is to plough back the profit from the men’s league into WPL. “For Adani, WPL is like a marketing investment. They also wanted to desperately enter the Indian cricket ecosystem after missing out on the IPL opportunity earlier. Being a VC, Capri Global might look to divest stake at a later stage when the league builds enough value,” he said.

A senior executive with one of the winning bidders said each company had a different rationale when it came to putting a value on the franchise. “We feel there is huge potential to grow this league globally. Nobody will make a profit in the first media rights cycle but we expect the media rights value to grow in the next cycle. However, nobody knows what that value will be,” said the executive.

D and P Advisory managing partner Santosh N said the WPL team value has surpassed most people’s expectations. “The central pool’s split in men’s IPL is 50-50 between BCCI and the franchisees and the share for franchisees in WPL is 80% to start with. This would be one of the reasons for the higher numbers we are seeing today in WIPL,” he said.

A person with knowledge of the matter said on condition of anonymity that the central revenue pool is split 80:20 between WPL franchisees and the BCCI for the first five years, and will change to 60:40 from the sixth year onward.

Among the losing bidders, Torrent Investments bid Rs 720 crore for the Ahmedabad franchise, according to people aware of the matter, while 369 Slingshot Ventures offered Rs 609 crore for multiple cities and Shah Rukh Khan-owned Knight Riders Sports placed a Rs 666 crore bid for all the 10 venues that were on offer.

Amrit Lila Enterprises, APL Sports, KPH Dream Cricket (owner of Punjab Kings IPL), Oam Industries, Royal Multisport (Rajasthan Royals), Shriram Value Services, Sun TV Network (Sunrisers Hyderabad) and Yadu International were also among the bidders.

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