Saudi Arabia cricket board Considers Launching World's Most Lucrative T20 Tournament
Saudi Arabia is reportedly exploring the possibility of launching a new Twenty20 tournament, with discussions taking place between government representatives and owners of Indian Premier League teams. The move is part of the nation's bid to become a "global cricketing destination", according to Prince Saud bin Mishal al-Saud, chairman of the Saudi cricket board. Talks have included the potential participation of Indian players, who have previously been banned from overseas T20 competitions. The new league would follow a series of controversial investments in football and golf, as well as partnerships with the International Cricket Council and the IPL.
Prince Saud has previously confirmed that plans for a professional cricket league are in development, but did not provide details on the timing or format of the competition. The most likely window for the new tournament would be October and November, when there are no major global competitions taking place. The launch of the new league would follow the recent introduction of high-profile new T20 competitions in South Africa and the UAE.
The potential investment in cricket by Saudi Arabia follows similar moves into other sports, with the nation recently acquiring Newcastle United and launching the LIV Golf tour. The Saudi tourism authority joined national petrol company Saudi Aramco as key sponsors of the IPL earlier this year, and the ICC agreed a global partnership with Aramco in October 2022.
The launch of a new T20 tournament in Saudi Arabia would create significant opportunities for players, teams, and sponsors, but would also face competition from established leagues and concerns over player welfare in the hot climate. Despite these challenges, the nation's growing interest in sport and its strategic regional position make cricket an attractive proposition, according to ICC chair Greg Barclay