Shane Watson re-opens BBL private ownership debate

Shane Watson, the Australian Cricketers’ Association president, believes Cricket Australia should re-examine the notion of private ownership of BBL clubs, a decade after the governing body’s initial “float” of stakes in the T20 league met a quiet end.

Private ownership of BBL clubs, the tournament model favoured by a large portion of overseas domestic leagues including the IPL, PSL, CPL and BPL, was a contentious issue at the time CA elected to move towards new identities for eight T20 teams, with a prospectus drawn up and a business mission taken to India to gauge private interest in the idea. Some of the initial structures of the BBL clubs, namely the independent boards and chief executives of the Melbourne Stars and Melbourne Renegades, were drawn up partly with private investment in mind.

CA’s executives, led by the then CEO James Sutherland and former head of strategy Andrew Jones, were cooler about the idea than some members of the CA board, and the idea fizzled out as the league was launched on a trajectory towards securing a far larger slice of an A$1.2 billion broadcast rights pie in 2018. Three years on, with CA embroiled in a battle with Seven West Media over the network’s campaign for a discount to its fees and Covid-19 affecting events more broadly, Watson reckons the concept should be revisited.

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