Australian news October 28, 2010

Cricket Australia to consider privately-owned teams

Cricket Australia will decide on Friday whether to allow private ownership of domestic Twenty20 teams in a shake-up it thinks could be as big as the World Series Cricket breakaway. Investors from India are believed to have shown significant interest in buying a stake in Australian sides for the revamped T20 league, which will start in 2011-12.

The new tournament is expected to feature eight city-based teams instead of the existing six state sides and how the ownership structure for those new teams is up for discussion. A four-hour presentation at Cricket Australia's annual general meeting on Thursday will be followed on Friday by a board meeting, at which a decision on private ownership will be made.

"There has been interest from private investors in being involved," a Cricket Australia spokesman told ESPNcricinfo. "All of that is a matter for board determination, but it will be a big discussion."

The Australian has reported that Victoria and New South Wales have both been approached by Indian investors offering multi-million dollar deals to take minority holdings in the new Melbourne and Sydney teams. All six state capitals are expected to field a side, with two new teams to be based in growth areas.

Cricket Australia has been keen to significantly expand the Big Bash after seeing the success of the Indian Premier League, although IPL-style franchising of sides was not a priority in the initial stages. Cricket Australia's general manager of marketing, Mike McKenna, said earlier this year "sport in Australia is not full of great successes in private investment".

But the early interest from investors has given the board plenty to think about, barely a year from the expected start of the competition. The locations for the two new sides are likely to be decided early next year.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at Cricinfo