The KKR Group acquired the rights to own & operate a franchise in the UAE’s upcoming T20 League which will be based in Abu Dhabi. The franchise will be named Abu Dhabi Knight Riders in line with their other teams, confirmed a KKR official.
This will be the fourth T20 franchise owned by the KKR group which is officially owned by Bollywood actors Shahrukh Khan & Juhi Chawla along with her husband Jay Mehta. After buying the KKR team in the Indian Premier League in 2008, the KKR group expanded its brand by purchasing Trinidad & Tobago (TKR) franchise in CPL in 2015. In 2020, they also bought a stake in the USA T20 franchise project Major League Cricket (MLC) with whom they have teamed up to construct a brand-new 10,000-capacity cricket venue in Southern California.
“For several years now, we have been expanding the Knight Riders brand globally and closely watching the potential for T20 cricket in the UAE,” Shah Rukh Khan was quoted as saying in a statement. “We are excited about becoming part of UAE’s T20 League, which no doubt will become hugely successful.”
KKR’s franchise acquisition in the UAE T20 league makes them the sixth franchise owner in the tournament. The other five firms that have already brought franchise rights are Adani Group, an Ahmedabad-based Indian infrastructure company, Capri Global, a non-banking financial company based in India, Lancer Capital, the owners of Manchester United Football Club, Reliance Strategic Business Ventures Limited, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited, the owners of Mumbai Indians and GMR Group, co-owner of Delhi Capitals.
“The commitment to grow the T20 format and the expertise gathered by the Knight Riders Group, through their involvement in franchise cricket across the world, is undisputed,” Khalid Al Zarooni, UAE T20 League chairman, said. “We are exceptionally pleased with their foresight to join forces with the UAE’s T20 League and firmly believe it will elevate the reputation, and professionalism of the League throughout the cricket community.”
Venky Mysore, CEO of Kolkata Knight Riders, said, “We feel fortunate to have been consistently recognized as a global brand in T20 cricket. As T20 cricket expands around the world, we are flattered by the regular invitations to play a major role in growing the sport across the world. We have had a keen interest in the developments in the UAE and our expansion is consistent with our long-term strategy.”
The USA T20 League comprising 34 matches was scheduled to be played in the February-March window but due to the unavailability of the window, the Emirates Cricket Board has decided to host the inaugural edition of the USA T20 League in June-July 2022.
UAE T20 League will be held annually, initially featuring six franchises. All the six franchises will compete in 34 matches across Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah. The ECB has sold rights of all the six franchises for $40-60 million each, to be paid over 10 years. Meanwhile, ECB sold UAE T20 League’s media rights for 10 years to Essel Group-owned, Zee Network for a whopping USD 120 million.
Initially, the inaugural edition of the USA T20 League was scheduled to be played in the February-March window but due to the unavailability of the window the ECB has decided to host the inaugural edition of the League in June-July 2022.