The first UAE T20 league has the potential to become a lucrative sporting event, attracting international sponsors and franchise owners, according to a new report commissioned by the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB).
The report, authored by Tim Wigmore, a sports business journalist, highlights the impact the growth of cricket will have on the region.
It said that as T20 goes from strength to strength on the global stage - with each Indian Premier League (IPL) game now worth $9 million - the UAE’s first T20 league, UAE T20x, has the "ability to fulfil a unique role in the market".
The report said cricket is the second most popular sport in the UAE, only 5 percent shy of football and the most popular game among Asian expats.
Wigmore said: "It stands to reason that a new tournament with a ‘glocal’ agenda is an appealing proposition for UAE based investors wanting to not only see a solid return on their capital, but to create a legacy in their own community."
He added in the report: "The growth of the game is clearly visible, the most notable proof point being the ever-increasing viewing figures of the major tournaments – which have driven a surge in the value of commercial rights.
"In fact, each IPL match is now worth $9 million, four times as much as an NBA game. When delivered well, T20 tournaments provide a lucrative business model – and it is this model that leagues like UAE T20x will aim to emulate as they evolve."
The new UAE T20x league - as well as its commercial partners, franchise buyers and sponsors - is looking to take advantage of the growing appetite for locally owned and played cricket by not only attracting the best talent in the world to the UAE, but by providing emerging players with the opportunity to train and compete with the very best T20 stars in the game.
The report noted that the ambition of UAE T20x to become the most internationally-represented league will therefore distinguish it from other T20 leagues, further strengthening its position as a "highly attractive and lucrative proposition for international investors".
Zayed Abbas, ECB board member and official spokesperson, welcomed the report, saying: “We are excited by the findings of this report. Cricket continues to grow in the UAE and we feel like this is the right time to launch our own league providing our local players with an opportunity to train and play with the very best T20 stars from around the world.
"Our number one aim of UAE T20x is to offer a developmental platform for the best young cricketers from around the world, and of course the UAE.”
The report was commissioned by the ECB and OPI Sports, to coincide with the launch of UAE T20x which will take place from December 19 to January 11 across the UAE.
The report’s author, Tim Wigmore, is a sports journalist for The Daily Telegraph, The New York Times, ESPN, The Economist and The Spectator.For all the latest sports news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.