The Saudi government recently announced that it is keen to set up the world’s richest T20 league — to rival the most successful Indian Premier League (IPL) — according to a report in The Age.
Reportedly, the Gulf state — in line with the recent Saudi Arabian expansion into sports — has approached the owners of the Indian league to ensure the participation of Indian players in the upcoming Saudi league.
As per the current rules of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Indian players are not allowed to participate in overseas T20 competitions.
However, the league would also need to be sanctioned by the International Cricket Council (ICC) and approved by member countries.
Earlier, ICC chairman Greg Barclay had also confirmed Saudi Arabia’s interest in cricket.
“If you look at other sports they’ve been involved in, cricket is something I imagine would be attractive to them,” he said.
“Given their advance into sports more generally, cricket would work quite well for Saudi Arabia. They’re pretty keen to invest in sport, and given their regional presence, cricket would seem a pretty obvious one to pursue.”
Saudi Arabia’s Prince Fahd bin Abdulaziz also highlighted that sports and entertainment will play a key role in the Kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030 in August last year.
“The country’s esteemed leadership is truly invested in the impact sport can have in improving the lives of its people and we are fully aligned to support the transformation,” he said. “The changes already implanted have already had a massive impact on people in our country.”
“You can really sense how excited Saudis are to see some of the world’s biggest sports events take place in the Kingdom.”
It must be noted that Saudi Arabia will host the FIFA Men’s Club World Cup later this year, having already hosted the Spanish Super Cup and events in Formula One, Golf, and boxing.
A group led by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign investment fund purchased the Premier League football team Newcastle United in 2021.
Meanwhile, legendary footballer Cristiano Ronaldo signed for Al Nassr of Saudi Arabia last year in a deal believed to be worth more than 200 million euros. The 37-year-old penned a contract that will take him to June 2025.