USA Cricket opts for Indian expertise to help launch domestic T20 league
American Cricket Enterprises, a special purpose vehicle established by Times of India Group, one of the country's largest media conglomerates, and Willow TV, the US multi-platform sports channel featuring international cricket, has won a competitive tender to fund and develop a professional Twenty20 cricket league in USA.
USA Cricket, the sport’s domestic governing body, launched a public invitation for tender back in November, and said the choice of ACE will result in more than $1 billion being invested into developing cricket in the country over a 10-year period.
As well as the financial commitment, USA Cricket highlighted ACE's plans for infrastructure and broadcast distribution, and its experienced and knowledgeable leadership.
ACE is backed by Sameer Mehta and Vijay Srinivasan, the founders of Willow TV, the largest cricket broadcaster in North America, and Satyan Gajwani and Vineet Jain, the principals of The Times of India Group. Three years ago, Times Internet, the digital arm of publishing group Times of India, acquired Willow TV.
The new league is being provisionally slated to start in 2021, and will “feature top international players from the US and around the world, combined with a focus on pathways to develop a homegrown player pool for USA Cricket and the league.”
The governing body has also said that ACE has already “commenced major infrastructure investment towards international grade cricket venues in several US metropolitan markets.”
As well as this, ACE plans to support to the US men’s and women’s national teams, and also to develop academies around the country to develop youth cricketing talent.
Willow TV, which has over four million subscribers in USA, and holds rights to all ICC events to 2023, the Indian Premier League and Pakistan Super League and has deals in place with national cricket boards, will be the main broadcaster of the US T20 league.
However, USA Cricket said it will, in addition to using Willow’s assets, attempt to engage with free-to-air platforms, “to ensure mainstream audiences are exposed to the league.”
In 2015, the International Cricket Council, the game's worldwide governing body, suspended the United States of America Cricket Assocation, citing concerns over the governance, finance, reputation and cricketing activities of the association, and then expelled it in 2017.
USA Cricket was then formed to unify cricket in the country, and the organisation was approved as an ICC member in January.Paraag Marathe, chairmain of USA Cricket, said: “USA Cricket is excited to partner with ACE to launch a professional cricket league in the United States. We were thoroughly impressed by their comprehensive proposal.”
Satyan Gajwani, a director at Times of India, added: “With a world-class T20 league, we will make cricket a prominent sport in the country, and (the US) a competitive force in global cricket. True grassroots development of any sport takes decades, and we are excited and committed to play a role in developing world-class cricket in America.”
USA’S neighbour Canada started its own league, the Global T20 Canada, last year.
Florida has staged matches from T20's Caribbean Premier League in recent years.