ECB refuses billion-dollar proposal for the Hundred from IPL founder

Oval Invincibles captain Sam Curran celebrates with the trophy after winning the men's hundred final
The ECB believes it can raise £100 million from selling equity in the teams - Andrew Boyers/Action Images

English cricket has turned down a proposal for the Hundred from Lalit Modi, the founder of the Indian Premier League, who values the competition at one billion dollars.

Modi’s representatives met with Vikram Banerjee, the England and Wales Cricket Board’s director of operations, who is de facto head of the Hundred, and chief executive Richard Gould to lay out a 10-year proposal to buy the Hundred and fund it through private investment.

However, Telegraph Sport understands the ECB will not be pursuing talks with Modi with a formal offer and figure yet to be put on the table. It is not interested in selling the competition as a whole because it fears losing control of the peak months of the season and worry dealing with Modi would jeopardise its relationship with the BCCI.

Modi was banned for life by the BCCI in 2013 for “serious misconduct and indiscipline” related to bids for two new franchises in 2010. Modi was forced to leave India and has lived in London since.

Lalit Modi and Bollywood actor Preity Zinta in 2008 at the IPL auction
Lalit Modi (right) is the founder of the Indian Premier League - Gautam Singh/AP

The ECB turned down a similar offer last year from the Bridgepoint Group worth £400 million for a 75 per cent stake in the Hundred. At the time, Richard Thompson, the ECB’s chairman, said he would only consider offers of a “few billion” and since then the ECB has pursued a strategy of selling equity in the teams, with the board retaining ownership of the competition.

Modi told Telegraph Sport he has lined up investors willing to pump money into a 10-team tournament but told the ECB the Hundred format does not work and should be converted into a Twenty20 competition instead.

He says his competition would include a team purse of up to $10 million every season, putting wages on a similar level to the IPL. Modi put the value of the competition at $100 million a year over 10 years and says the franchises should be English-owned and English-run with minimal input from India. He believes the ECB should sell no more than two franchises to IPL teams in order for it to keep its English identity and not turn into another version of the IPL.

Modi has been working on his plan for English cricket for the past 18 months and believes its scale would make the competition second only to the IPL in terms of financial clout, and the windfall would guarantee the future of the counties for a generation. The ECB’s plan to sell equity, by its own estimate, will bring in a tenth of what Modi is confident he can deliver. However, the ECB wants to retain control of the competition and the high summer window.

Rhianna Southby of Southern Brave carries The Hundred Women's Champions Trophy
The Hundred has been a huge boost for the women's game - Alex Davidson/Getty Images

Modi’s plan would be for the competition to run from July 1 to Aug 15. “I would give them a guarantee of a billion dollars,” he told Telegraph Sport. “A lot of people have been in touch with me interested in backing it and I made a proposal to the ECB but it had a lot of conditions. The Hundred format does not work and there should only be two franchises sold to Indian buyers. It will only work if it is an English competition and not Indo-centric.”

Modi set up the IPL in 2008 and latest estimates put its brand value at $10.7 billion, a growth of more than 400 per cent since it started. Its media rights were sold in 2022 for more than $6 billion.

The ECB believes it can raise £100 million from selling equity in the teams and consultation is ongoing with the counties to change the constitution to allow private ownership of the eight Hundred clubs.

Hundred Q&A: How much could it be worth?

How do cricket leagues make money?

Across most major sports league in the world, a significant majority of money – often 80 per cent – comes from broadcasting rights worldwide. While Premier League football now makes more from its overseas than domestic broadcasting rights, it is an outlier. Other sports leagues, including T20 leagues and the Hundred, make a significant majority of their broadcasting income from domestic rights. It is thought that less than five per cent of the Hundred’s revenue comes from overseas TV rights. While leagues have sought to maximise their commercial appeal in India, the Indian board’s ban on any players playing in overseas short-format competitions means that such attempts have floundered.

Why is the Hundred worth so much?

Lalit Modi’s proposal of $1 billion (£800 million) for the Hundred reflects what some insiders think that the competition could be worth. The tournament currently generates £50 million a year in broadcasting revenue, with hopes that this could grow in the years to come. Multi-national branding, with teams being affiliated to Indian Premier League franchises, is seen as one way in which the league could grow overseas – although the evidence of T20 leagues in South Africa and the UAE, which have been bought by IPL owners, is mixed.


Modi made India a cricket superpower before exile – now he wants the Hundred

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Why are Indian businessmen keen to invest in the Hundred?

IPL owners have already shown their relish for investing in foreign leagues, buying teams in the Caribbean Premier League, the SA20 in South Africa and the UAE’s International League T20. The multi-team model – similar to that of City Football Group, who own Man City and a stable of other clubs – is attractive because it provides a way for IPL teams to keep their brands active for more of the year, with the IPL itself only two months long. Owning foreign teams also helps with scouting players and developing coaches: for instance, Kieron Pollard, who is now Mumbai Indians’ batting coach, continues to play for the Mumbai franchise in other T20 leagues.

Owning teams in England is viewed as particularly attractive. England is the second-biggest market for the game. While the global calendar has become far more crowded, the English summer remains markedly less packed than the English winter, increasing the Hundred’s chances of attracting eyeballs worldwide and signing leading overseas players. The history of the grounds – especially Lord’s – holds obvious appeal to potential owners, some of whom have major business interests in England. The prospects of generating corporate income on matchdays at English grounds are also far stronger than in poorer economies, like in South Africa and West Indies. Indian owners would also hope to persuade the Indian board to allow Indian players to feature in the Hundred eventually.