Reliance Industries Limited, through its subsidiary Reliance Strategic Business Ventures Ltd (RSBVL), will be buying rights to own and operate a new franchise in Emirates Cricket Board's upcoming UAE T20 League.
This marks the first major overseas expansion of Reliance Industries' cricket operations in the global franchise-based cricket leagues. RIL already owns the Mumbai Indians franchise in the Indian Premier League (IPL) apart from their other cricket-related initiatives including sponsorship, consultancy, broadcast, and talent management.
Chairman of the UAE T20 League and vice-chairman ECB Khalid Al Zarooni feels that RILs investment in UAE T20 League demonstrates the confidence of the corporate industry in UAE's vision and ability to deliver a world-class cricketing event.
"We aim to transform cricket in UAE through UAE T20 League. Our wider plan includes expansion of cricket through various development programs being conducted in UAE by the League franchisees including talent hunts, coaching, and training by some of the best in the business," said Zarooni in an official release.
"RIL has the legacy with a proven track record in establishing the most successful team in franchise cricket. Association of vanguard like RIL with the League demonstrates the confidence in our system and the strength of our infrastructure to deliver world-class events. We are pleased to welcome RIL onboard and look forward to having an exciting and continuing alliance," he added.
Nita Ambani, co-owner and architect of Mumbai Indians said, "With great pride and joy, we take our Mumbai Indians brand of fearless cricket to new geography. We are thankful to our fans, both in India and overseas, for supporting MI wholeheartedly. I look forward to strengthening and further expanding our global fanbase, and having a longer engagement with them through this new League.
While Mumbai Indians will continue to remain at the heart of our cricket operations, the popularity of global T20 leagues and the attractiveness of the UAE market offer a unique opportunity for us to further unlock the value of our sports management expertise. It also allows us a platform to develop young international talent and share best practices both on and off the field."
Owner of Mumbai Indians, Akash Ambani said: "We are extremely proud to have created a global franchise in Mumbai Indians, integrated with high values and ethos and our contribution to the Indian cricket ecosystem. We are equally confident of shaping another successful brand in UAE and bringing in our experiences to benefit the growth of cricket in UAE.”
Mubashshir Usmani, General Secretary ECB said: "The trust being shown by prominent business houses in the UAE T20 League is extremely encouraging. We are pleased with RIL's association with the League as a franchise team owner. Having seen the professionalism in the operations of Mumbai Indians in the IPL, their success in putting together the most successful team in franchise cricket and the passion with which they pursue their goals, we are very confident that this association will be mutually beneficial for both RIL and the League and will support cricket development in UAE."
The ECB sanctioned UAE T20 League will happen annually and initially will have 6 teams competing in a 34-match tournament.