The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has labelled its new Women’s Premier League (WPL) the “second-highest valued” league in the sport after franchises for the T20 competition were auctioned off today (Wednesday), generating INR46,699,900,000 (£464.2m/€526.6m/$572.2m).
Five franchises were up for grabs for the inaugural edition of the WPL, which is set to launch in as yet unspecified dates in March. The tender process received bids from 16 entities, including the ownership groups of all but three of the 10 current men’s Indian Premier League (IPL) teams, with the WPL franchises to be based in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad and Lucknow.
The Ahmedabad franchise proved the most lucrative, with Adani Sportsline paying INR12.89bn for its team. Adani missed out on an IPL expansion franchise when two teams were auctioned for the 2022 season, with the next three highest valued WPL teams being acquired by existing IPL team owners.
Indiawin Sports (Mumbai Indians) paid INR9.12bn for its team, while Royal Challengers Sports (Royal Challengers Bangalore) splashed out INR9.01bn and JSW GMR Cricket (Delhi Capitals) paid INR8.1bn. All three WPL teams will play in the same cities as their IPL counterparts.
The final WPL franchise was acquired by Capri Global Holdings for INR7.57bn. This team will be based in Lucknow. BCCI honorary secretary, Jay Shah, said: “It is a historic day for women’s cricket. The collective bid of INR4669.99 crore shows that our stakeholders thoroughly believe in the concept and have faith in BCCI’s vision and plans for the league.
“I believe that with a record media rights valuation earlier and now with these high bids, the league will be commercially independent and self-sustaining property.
“The league will surely provide more strength, but more importantly, create a more equitable future for women and girls in our sport. We are standing at a juncture where women’s cricket is set to grow by leaps and bounds and the WPL and the pay-parity decision earlier are significant milestones.”
Earlier this month, media group Viacom18 agreed a five-year deal to acquire the global television and digital rights to the WPL for a fee of INR9.51bn.
Commenting on securing the Mumbai franchise, Nita Ambani, director of Indiawin Sports’ parent company, Reliance Industries, said: “This is a historic moment for Indian cricket, and we are delighted to be a part of it. India’s women cricketers have always made the nation proud in the global sporting arena – be it the World Cup, Asian Cup or the recent Commonwealth Games.
“This new Women’s League will once again shine a global spotlight on the talent, power, and potential of our girls. I’m sure our Women’s MI team will take the Mumbai Indians brand of fearless and entertaining cricket to a new level altogether.
“My heartiest congratulations to BCCI on this landmark announcement. It will pave the way for more and more young women to take up professional sport. At Reliance, we remain committed to the glorious rise of women not just in cricket, but sport in general.”