As the threat of coronavirus continues to loom over the United Kingdom (UK), the much-awaited 100-ball tournament ‘The Hundred’ is likely to face postponement by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). Under the terms of The Hundred, the 18 English counties were promised by the ECB to be paid £1.3 million (US$1.6 million) each. However, with no cricket and UK lockdown in effect, there are no guarantees that the amounts will be fully paid by the ECB on time.
According to media reports, the Oakwell Sports Advisory recently advised the ECB to turn central payments to their counties from The Hundred into equity stakes in order to open it up for private investment. The Oakwell Sports Advisory stated that such a move would prompt each of the franchise in The Hundred to own their share in the revenue distribution as an equity stake as well. They recommended that through privatising The Hundred, ECB will be able to attract even Indian Premier League (IPL) owners to invest in the 100-ball tournament.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) does not allow its players to participate in overseas T20 leagues. The Oakwell report further stated that the same could change if IPL ownership is involved in The Hundred, thus attracting Indian fans and viewers, who constitute a vast majority of the global cricket fans. The report also pointed out that the involvement of Indian players and IPL franchises would generate revenues out of India, which would further help ECB and The Hundred to generate a strong fan base in the Indian subcontinent.
Perhaps, the Hundred could take a cue from the Caribbean Premier League. In 2015, IPL franchise Kolkata Knight Riders' (KKR) owners, Red Chillies Entertainment, acquired a stake in a Caribbean Premier League (CPL) franchise Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel. After the acquisition by KKR, the franchise was later renamed to Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR), which helped the league capture the Indian market largely during the summer months when no cricket takes place in the country. Inspired by TKR's success, Kings XI Punjab's owners bought the St. Lucia Zouks franchise of the league earlier this year.
Much like The Hundred, the commencement of the IPL 2020 season has also been indefinitely delayed by the BCCI. IPL 2020 was originally intended to launch on March 29. Additionally, BCCI President Sourav Ganguly recently stated that there are no plans of organising any cricketing activities in India as of now.