Legends League cricket in expansion mode; looks for franchise buyers

Legends League cricket in expansion mode; looks for franchise buyers

The league is now looking at the franchise model and will start with the sale of four franchises.


MUMBAI: Legends League Cricket (LLC), which is a Twenty20 cricket tournament comprised of former players had its first season this year in January in Oman. The league is now looking at the franchise model and will start with the sale of four franchises. On the broadcast front the first season aired in India on Sony and it is now looking at longer-term deals. 59 former cricketers took part in the first season.

Speaking to Indiantelevision.com Absolute Legends Sports co-founder, CEO Raman Raheja said that the expectation is to achieve breakeven in the third year of operations. “We have invested more than $7 million into the business and will continue to invest more to develop and promote the eco-system of Legends Cricket. We would also see further investments coming from our Franchisee in the future to promote the space. LLC would not only provide more revenue making opportunities for retired cricketers but also create a unique fan engagement platform and Learning platforms for upcoming cricket talent. According to our business plan, the business is expected to breakeven in the third year of operation.”

The plan he adds is to have four franchisees in season one of Club Series that would be hosted in September 2022. “We would add two more franchisees in Season two next September. The franchisees are expected to invest up to $15 million in acquisition costs over the next 10 years besides the players fees and operational costs.”

Shedding light on the revenue streams available to franchises he said that like any other professional T20 League in the world, there will be a shared central pool for the franchisees. The central pool would have revenues from broadcast rights sales, league sponsorships and ticketing. The same would be appropriately distributed amongst all franchisees.

“Given the business model, franchisees would break even from year two itself,” he confidently avers.

In terms of the broadcast plans, he explains that the first season was broadcast on Sony Sports Network in India, Geo Sports in Pakistan, Supreme TV in Sri Lanka and Crictracker around the world. “Some of the deals are long term but India was single season. We are now going to be negotiating a longer term deal for the India territory. Also, we are in discussion with leading broadcasters in England, South Africa, Bangladesh, Australia and New Zealand after the success of season one.”

Earlier there was a league comprising of retired cricketers. It folded up. Raheja cautions that business can’t be run just based on passion for cricket. He stresses the importance of having the right approach and opportunity to create a solid return on investment. “The previous such leagues were flawed in their business model. The cricket economy is primarily run by the Indian ecosystem. Thus, we are focused on that for the business model. We may be hosted outside India, but the primary target group is Indian fans thereby making for a relevant financial model. Our first season itself showed that. We became the most watched T20 League in India outside of the IPL thereby showing that the content has traction; thus the revenues also flow in.”

Queried about how the idea of LLC came about he said that while cricket is as good as a religion in India with millions of followers the unfortunate fact is that cricket heroes fade into oblivion when they retire from active sports participation. They may have, he explains, some competitive cricket left in them but due to growing age and dropping fitness levels, they are unable to compete at the optimum level with younger players.

Adds Raheja: “We don’t want them to fall off the cliff on announcing retirement. We want to taper off their exit with a gradual withdrawal over four to five years or more of playing competitive cricket amongst other legends of the game. Legends League Cricket is created to provide fans with an opportunity to see the legendary cricket heroes playing some competitive cricket and recreate the old rivalries on the cricket field.

According to him, some of the key objectives behind LLC are: "We want to own the word “Legend” in the sports genre on social and digital platforms. We created and promoted our content accordingly across the world and the result was that we were trending on that keyword on Google. In season one, we had a direct fan base of more than 300 million followers with our 59 Cricket Legends (players) as their social media followers. That’s how we want to engage with fans as our core mission.”

Now would you not call that a win-win strategy?