Shah Rukh Khan invests in cricket in Hollywood, buys Los Angeles franchise
First Published Dec 1, 2020, 5:22 PM IST
Shah Rukh Khan's Knight Riders Group already owns a couple of cricket teams. The group owns Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League, besides owing Trinbago Knight Riders in the Caribbean Premier League. Both the teams have won titles to date.
Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan seems to be blooming in his sports business, as he has another feather in his cap. His famous Knight Riders Group, owned by Red Chillies Entertainment, has bought a team in the United States of America (USA), based in the Hollywood city of Los Angeles.
The actor and his group have named the franchise LA Knight Riders, as the team is set to be a part of the upcoming Major Cricket League (MCL) in the USA, which is set to get underway from 2022. It would be SRK's third investment in a cricket team.
SRK & Knight Riders Group already own the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the Indian Premier League (IPL), since 2008, while the side has won two titles to date. He also owns Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), since 2015, while the side has won three titles under its brand.
The tournament would consist of six teams, from New York, San Francisco, Washington DC, Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles. The competition is the nation's governing body USA Cricket, which is an affiliate member of the International Cricket Council (ICC).
"For several years now, we have been expanding the Knight Riders brand globally and closely watching the potential for T20 cricket in the USA. We are convinced that Major League Cricket has all the pieces in place to execute on its plans and we look forward to making our partnership an enormous success in the coming years," said SRK in a statement.
Meanwhile, Knight Riders CEO, Venky Mysore, said "As T20 cricket expands internationally, we are flattered by the regular inbound requests to play a major role in growing the sport abroad. We have had a keen interest in the developments in the United States and our expansion into the US is consistent with our long-term strategy. We look forward to the new challenge of building cricket in the world's most sophisticated sports and media market and we believe that we can bring a huge amount of expertise to help make Major League Cricket realise the potential that it undoubtedly has."
Speaking to ESPNCricinfo, Mysore added, "When they invited us, we said we want to take a deep dive into this, and not just have a short-term outlook. So, they see us as a consultant in many ways, apart from being a big part of the league. They want us to play a very broad role, to help and assist them with all aspects of cricket in the US."
"USA Cricket are looking at a bigger national cricket set-up, academies, develop talent and all that is complementary to what the T20 league will do as well. In addition, we will be working hard to build infrastructure there, six world-class stadiums in the next few years," noted Mysore.
"It will be like a public-private partnership, where you have conversations with the city council and they are used to doing it with other sports when it comes to, say, giving you land, or long-term financing arrangements. Eventually, their ambition is to host international competitions, including, potentially, the World Cup. So, this could be on the agenda. USA has a strong sports culture. It's also the No. 1 media market. Cricket is the second-most-watched sport in the world, so you combine it all, it's got all the ingredients of a very successful product," Mysore continued.
"What you are looking at here, is that everyone is aligned. You have a stake in the league, and the decisions that are made have a bearing on you and the league. You are also looking out for the health of the tournament. Here, we will be party to the decision-making, which is important. Normally, the finances flow into the entity that owns the league, whereas here, the stakeholders get a large chunk of it. To that extent, you gain or lose based on the kind of decisions that are made," reckoned Mysore.
"Lots of people say we are the only global brand in T20 cricket, and we take a lot of pride in that. That was always our vision. The IPL is for two months, and maybe a month leading up to that, but what do you do to keep your brand alive the rest of the year," Mysore recalled.
"The vision is to build the business at a global level, and own two, three, four, five franchises around the world, and build them on the mother brand of Knight Riders, and use a common template and model about how you operationalise the business, how you do your branding, your sponsorship deals, your merchandising deals, etc.," asserted Mysore.
"They were very encouraged that UAE was able to hold an eight-team event in three cities, and this is a six-team event. In five years, they might think about expanding it. That's the broad thought process. Then, over time, when the scouting and grassroots programmes kick in, we are hoping more and more local players get involved," Mysore concluded.
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