Salman Sarwar Butt, CEO of the UAE T20 League & OPI Sports, speaks to Sport Industry Group about the launch of the newest global T20 league, what makes it different, and how it is investing in the development of cricket in the region.
You and the team are the latest to launch a new T20 event – what’s different?
This new T20 festival promises to become the most international and entertaining showcase for both the game of cricket and the UAE’s position as an international sporting super-hub.
Uniquely, the franchise team make-up will make this the most internationally-representative T20 competition in the world, providing opportunities for players from both ICC Full Member and Associate Member countries to play T20 and develop their skills alongside the very best in the world.
But what sets this T20 event apart from other established events around the world?
Our intention is to build a new event that occupies a unique position in the international cricket calendar.
We are not looking to compete with other T20 leagues, we are looking to develop an international festival of cricket that exists first and foremost for the benefit of the players, and with a very specific goal of helping to develop new talent from around the world, and grow the game.
What can you tell us about the make-up of the franchise squads, and what will make this event appealing to fans, stakeholders and the business community?
The franchise squads that will compete in this event will comprise 13 overseas players from all corners of the world, including six leading international star players, two emerging players from ICC Full Member countries, three players from ICC Associate Member nations, two junior players and three UAE cricketers.
No other T20 competition has been established with these developmental goals at their core, and no other event will showcase such a wide array of international talent.
What effect do you hope your tournament can have on the development of the sport of cricket in the UAE and wider region?
Our firm aim is for this event to take the sport to all corners of the UAE and develop the sport at a grassroots level in each host Emirate. The tournament structure, which combines local talent with rising stars and legends of the game, is going to make for an unmissable experience and also provide a platform to find and nurture the next generation of cricket talent in the UAE.
What would you say to potential franchise owners on why this new tournament represents a strong commercial investment opportunity for them?
Our franchise model has been developed using best practise and learnings from our experience in sports franchising and international business.
This is a great opportunity for brands and individuals to deepen their engagement with consumers in an innovative way across segments, age groups and geographies. This event is being built to ensure it is a commercially sustainable platform of high strategic value towards promotion of cricket in the UAE and internationally for sponsors and franchise owners alike.