Mohammed Abudullah, Senior Sports Reporter
In a watershed moment in the history of the UAE cricket, the Lancer Capital, Manchester United owners, have acquired a franchise in the upcoming UAE T20 League, it was announced by the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) in a statement on Wednesday.
This is the Lancer Capital’s maiden foray in any sport across the Middle East and also their first in franchise cricket. Lancer Capital boasts an impressive portfolio of sports franchises, which stretches from National Football League’s (NFL) Tampa Bay to English Premier League’s (EPL) Manchester United.
The UAE T20 League is the first professional franchise-based T20 tournament to be sanctioned by the ECB. The league will feature a total of six teams and 34 matches. The tournament will played at the Dubai Cricket Stadium in Feb-March next year.
“I am very excited to be a part of UAE T20 at its formation. UAE T20 promises to be a world-class event that will be transformative to the growth of cricket in the UAE,” said Avram Glazer, the Chairman of Lancer Capital, in the statement.
Glazer has been the co-chairman of the Manchester United since 2005 and known for his acumen in sports investment and management.
United have won more EPL title than any other team in the history of the League. His NFL franchise Tampa Bay have won Super Bowl title and reckoned as one of the top contenders in the league.
The announcement has come a week after India’s Reliance Industries, owners of the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) franchise Mumbai Indians, channelized their maiden overseas sports investment by announcing to buy a franchise in the UAE T20 League.Mumbai Indians are the current champions of the IPL and the most successful team, having won five titles in 14 editions.
Lancer Capital had shown their interest to buy a team in the IPL, the richest cricket league of the world. They had bid unsuccessfully for a franchise in the IPL, which is set to be expanded to ten teams from eight in the fifteenth edition of the tournament next year.
“I am very excited to welcome Glazer to the UAE T20 Family. To have a partner, who has invested into sports properties with a long term investment perspective is a testament to the strength of the UAE T20 League’s business model and its value proposition to its stakeholders and an ode to the UAE as the destination of choice for global sports events,” said Khalid Al Zarooni, UAE T20 League chairman and vice-chairman Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) in the statement issued by the board.
The UAE have become the most sought-after sporting destination since the outbreak of the coronavirus. They have successfully staged the T20 World Cup and IPL matches, which were preceded by many sporting events like MMA fights, Asian Boxing Championship and Abu Dhabi Formula One.
“We are extremely pleased that a legendary sports owner like Glazer has chosen to partner with the UAE T20 League,” said Mubashshir Usmani, General Secretary ECB, in the statement.
“This is a resounding thumbs up to the unique opportunity that the UAE T20 League offers to experienced and established sports business owners.
“Our partnership with Lancer Capital will enable us to combine fans of the two widely followed sports -- football and cricket – in a never done before manner,” added Usmani.
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