Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), the parent company of Mumbai Indians, is buying a team in Emirates Cricket Board's UAE T20 League. The league will feature six teams, including two IPL franchises - Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Capitals.
The other three teams are expected to be owned by the Glazer family of Manchester United in the UK, Sidney Sixers from Australia, and Capri Industries from the UAE.
According to the organizers, Reliance Industries Limited, through its subsidiary Reliance Strategic Business Ventures Ltd (RSBVL), will own and operate a new franchise cricket team in the Emirates Cricket Board's upcoming UAE T20 League.
RIL's cricket operations in global franchise-based cricket leagues have now expanded overseas for the first time. IPL franchises like Kolkata Knight Riders, Punjab Kings, and Rajasthan Royals have stakes in multiple leagues around the world. Mumbai Indians, the richest club in the IPL, have so far not tried to expand their fan base.
Chairman of the UAE T20 League and vice-chairman ECB Khalid Al Zarooni said the presence of MI is a vote of confidence for top corporates for the UAE T20 League. "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 franchises including talent hunts, coaching, and training by some of the best in the business," Al Zarooni said.
Nita Ambani, co-owner of MI, said: "While Mumbai Indians will continue to remain at the heart of our cricket operations, the popularity of global T20 leagues and 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."
The UAE T20 League, sanctioned by the Emirates Cricket Board, will be held annually. For the initial few years, the League will feature six franchise teams competing in a 34-match event. The organizers want to involve some of the biggest names in world cricket in the league.
"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," Mubashshir Usmani, General Secretary of the ECB said.