MUMBAI: Enthused by the success of the inaugural Indian Premier League (IPL), the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has announced the inaugural Champions Twenty20.
The BCCI has set a reserve price of $750 million for the 10-year broadcast rights.
The IPL 10-year telecast rights had earlier gone to Sony-WSG for $1.026 billion. The guaranteed payout commitment by Sony-WSG for the first five years is $306 million.
The ten-day Champions Twenty20 inaugural tournament will be played from 29 September to 8 October, 2008. Eight teams will be taking part in the competition.
Elaborating on the event BCCI VP Lalit Modi says, “The IPL set new benchmarks. Women and children also watched the games. Before the IPL, there was apprehension that people might not want to watch foreigners playing. However what we have seen is that fans love quality cricket. We have also received a lot of interest from different parties regarding the telecast rights and we hope that they put their money where their mouth is. People have seen the kind of deliveries that the IPL has managed. We expanded the fan base.”
The tender for telecast rights will be floated shortly. The IPL winner Rajasthan Royals and the runners up Chennai Super Kings will represent India.
The founding partners in the venture are Cricket Australia and Cricket South Africa. The other participating country in the event hasn't been finalised yet.
Western Australia and Victoria will represent Australia. South Africa will also have two teams. Pakistan’s top domestic team Sialkot will take part.
What is interesting is that the BCCI has sent an invitation to the English Cricket Board (ECB) asking that Middlesex be allowed to participate. There had been reports of tension between the BCCI and ECB as the latter was said to be organising their own league.
Modi adds, “ We are hopeful of receiving a positive response from the ECB. The eight teams will play 15 matches in the inaugural Champions Twenty20. There will be four teams in two pools. The top two advance to the semi-final stage. The total purse is $6 million. From next year we will have 12 teams playing 23 matches. There will be four pools here. We have had the boards of Sri Lanka, West Indies and New Zealand expressing interest to take part. Unfortunately due to the Champions Trophy we were not able to accommodate them. We will do so from next year. We also hope that the ECB sends two teams from next year. We will host the event in September from next year, as there is no conflict with the international calendar. The event has been in the works for one year now and we feel that this is the best way to move forward”.
The matches will be held in different venues. While those will probably be Delhi, Mohali and Jaipur, Modi says that other venues have also expressed interest. “My hope is that this event will travel globally. If it becomes even bigger than IPL because it has international teams playing, I will be happy. It provides a new and exciting pinnacle for club championships across the world. It will provide teams with the opportunity to earn the title of World Club Champions in a format, which will be eagerly anticipated by spectators and players alike. It is possible in coming years that this event might be held in other countries. It would depend on the television timings and the efforts made on infrastructure like the stadiums.”
Cricket Australia organises the KFC Big Bash Twenty20. Its CEO James Sutherland said, "This fantastic new competition gives our best state cricketers, and their equivalents in other competitions, a chance to pit their skills against champions from other countries. I am also delighted that the benefits of this global event will flow down to state level and enhance cricket at grass roots level. I am certain it will add a whole new dimension to our own KFC Big Bash Twenty20 interstate competition and globally, will help us all in winning new fans for cricket around the world. It is great that our local talent will be able to shine on a global stage."
Cricket South Africa conducts the Standard Bank Pro20. Cricket South Africa CEO Gerald Majola said, "The Champions Twenty20 League is an idea whose time has come. I am certain this competition will significantly enhance the international stature of domestic cricket and pave the way for greater involvement of cricketers, right from the club, province, state and county through to the national and international arenas. CSA is proud to be associated with this initiative and we are sure that this event will ignite the passion of cricket lovers the world over, quite along the lines of what we had experienced with both our current Standard Bank Pro20 and the recently held inaugural ICC T20 World Cup held in South Africa last September."
When asked about the proposed English league, Sutherland said the loyalties of Cricket Australia lie first and foremost with this venture.
Any team that has Indian Cricket League (ICL) players in its fold will not be allowed to take part, Modi clarified. It is believed that Middlesex has been invited since it does not have ICL affiliated players in its fold.