Mumbai: Zee TV, which will launch its private Twenty20 (T20) cricket league at the end of the month, much against the wishes of the sport’s administrators, already plans a second tournament in March or April.
Zee, a part of the media baron Subhash Chandra’s Essel Group, said the format of the new tournament is yet to be finalized. “It may even be the longer 50-over one-day version,” said Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd marketing vice-president Gaurav Seth.
Tapping potential: Subash Chandra, chairman of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. Zee, a part of Chandra’s Essel Group, said the format of the new tournament is yet to be finalized.
“We are keeping our options open,” said Seth, who’s looking after the marketing of the Indian Cricket League (ICL), Essel’s parallel T20 tournament. The same six teams in ICL, comprising the same set of players, will feature in the new tournament, though Essel is also looking at expansion possibilities involving more teams later, he said.
The company has taken on lease the 20,000-seat Tau Devi Lal Stadium at Panchkula, Chandigarh, for 50 days annually. ICL’s T20 league will have 20 matches played over 17 days, leaving enough spare days for a second tournament.
On Monday, ICL also plans to announce its brand campaign. The ICL executive board, headed by former India skipper Kapil Dev, will unveil the team jerseys created by fashion designer Manish Arora. He designed six jerseys for the six teams.
“It does look like a regular sports uniform but each one does have its own character,” said Arora, a regular designer for Reebok. “Ultimately, the garment is about comfort.”
The composition, the captains and coaches, and the final names of the teams which will likely be named after the six cities—Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi, Chandigarh, Chennai and Hyderabad—will be announced in mid-November, Seth said. The road show to fan support will take off this weekend, coinciding with Diwali on 9 November.
The sport’s official administrative body, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which has announced its own T20 tournament, the Indian Premier League with a purse of $3 million (about Rs12 crore), does not recognize ICL.
It has blacklisted the players who have aligned with the parallel league, and prevailed upon administrative counterparts in other cricket-playing nations to ban their players as well. The International Cricket Council has said it would abide by BCCI’s ruling that ICL was a “rebel” league.
Essel, along with Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd, will spend up to Rs100 crore on ICL, carrying a third of IPL’s prize money, over the next 10 years. It has signed up 30 overseas players—five per team—including Brian Lara of the West Indies, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Abdul Razzaq of Pakistan, Lance Klusener and Nicky Boje of South Africa, and Damien Martyn of Australia.
Revenue streams include television advertisements on Essel-owned sports channel Zee Sports, apart from ticket sale, in-stadium food and beverage sales, and on-ground advertisements that will be shared with local civic authorities who maintain the facility.
Over a period of time, stores in the six cities that the teams will be named after will partner for merchandising of jerseys, caps, socks and bandanas. Sample mugs with the ICL logo are already on display in Seth’s Mumbai office.
The company has appointed the Durban, South Africa-based curator Phillip Russell along with Nadeem Mamon of Mumbai to prepare a pitch tailor-made for the T20 format.
Seth said talks were on with filmstars for the opening ceremony. He added that cheerleaders from abroad would grace the 17-day tournament; cameras at the recent victorious T20 match in South Africa frequently turned to the cheerleaders sporting Reliance Mobile plugs across their chests. “We are already in the entertainment business,” said Seth.