Hampshire confirms ‘detailed’ investment talks amid IPL links

The Ageas Bowl in West End, Hampshire

Featured image credit: Rob Ridley

Hampshire County Cricket Club has confirmed it is “fully engaged in some detailed negotiations” regarding investment, amid a report linking an Indian Premier League (IPL) ownership group to a takeover deal.

Hampshire’s parent company, Hampshire Sport & Leisure Holdings, also owns the Ageas Bowl, one of English cricket’s leading international venues, along with its hotel and surrounding golf course. It has spoken out after The Telegraph said the company’s majority shareholder and chairman, Rod Bransgrove, is in advanced talks to sell his stake to GMR Group, co-owners of IPL franchise the Delhi Capitals.

Hampshire said: “Hampshire Sport & Leisure Holdings Ltd has made no secret of the fact that it has been investigating a number of investment options for some time now and, in the course of these investigations, the company has engaged with a number of parties under conditions of confidentiality.

“Whilst it is true that the company is fully engaged in some detailed negotiations regarding investment, the nature and content of any such investigations are subject to formal non-disclosure agreements which the company is bound to observe.

“To date, we have concluded no formal binding agreements other than NDAs. We repeat, therefore, we can make no further comment about the status of our negotiations until such time as we have something to disclose.”

Bransgrove, who oversaw Hampshire’s move to its current home outside of Southampton in 2001 and the subsequent expansion of the stadium, stepped down as the club’s chairman at the end of 2023. However, it was announced that he would remain chair of Hampshire Sport & Leisure Holdings, in which he holds more than 60% of the shares, steering the next phase of stadium development.

Hampshire is one of three counties, along with Northamptonshire and Durham, which are not member-owned, subsequently enabling Bransgrove to sell without fan input. Bransgrove is widely regarded as having propped up the financial fortunes of Hampshire after saving the club from insolvency having secured control in 2001.

However, it has been understood that he has been seeking to sell his shares in the club for some time. In an open letter to fans last month following the end of his tenure as club chairman, Bransgrove said: “I have an important role now to make sure that our plans for the Ashes 2027 are underpinned by long-term financial security.

“I promised at the outset that Hampshire Cricket will never again be threatened by insolvency and I intend to fulfil this commitment before I put my feet up.”

Hampshire has prior links to the IPL. Between 2010 and 2013, the club held a partnership with the Rajasthan Royals which saw it play T20 cricket as Hampshire Royals. Along with Delhi Capitals and the franchise’s sister Women’s Premier League team, GMR also owns Dubai Capitals in the UAE’s ILT20 and is a co-owner of Seattle Orcas in the Major League Cricket in the US.

IPL ownership groups have been widening their presence in overseas cricket leagues, and have also previously been linked to investment in Yorkshire County Cricket Club. The Yorkshire board this week approved a takeover of the club by a consortium led by its former chairman Colin Graves.

English cricket is seen to be ripe for overseas investment at present, with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) expected to open up its Hundred competition to private investment.