The Indian Premier League (IPL) on Monday unveiled two new teams for the Twenty20 competition, with the Lucknow and Ahmedabad franchises sold for a combined 127.15 billion Indian rupees (US$1.7 billion).
The RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group, which owned the now-defunct Pune franchise for two IPL campaigns, bid 70.9 billion Indian rupees for the Lucknow outfit while Irelia Company Pte. Ltd. (CVC Capital Partners) bid a little over 56 billion Indian rupees for the Ahmedabad side.
Both teams will compete in the competition from the 2022 edition, which will have 10 teams and 74 matches where each side will play seven home and seven away games.
The league had approved a proposal in December to add two franchises to the world's richest Twenty20 competition, which has an estimated brand value of US$6.8 billion.
"It is good be back in the IPL and I am delighted," RPSG owner Sanjiv Goenka told cricket website ESPNcricinfo. "It is an initial step. We now have to build a good team and perform."
ESPNcricinfo reported that 22 companies had purchased the tender document but only nine were at the bidding process that took place behind closed doors in Dubai earlier in the day.
A senior Indian cricket board (BCCI) official confirmed that among the bidders was a member of the Glazer family, which owns Premier League giants Manchester United.
"The Invitation to Tender process included two interested bidders from outside of India, which strongly emphasises the global appeal of the IPL as a sports property," BCCI President, Sourav Ganguly said in a statement.
"The IPL is proving to be a wonderful instrument in globalising the game of cricket. I am keenly looking forward to IPL 2022."
The BCCI had set the base price for the new teams at 20 billion Indian rupees.
The eight-team competition was halted close to its halfway stage in May after two franchises reported COVID-19 cases.
The second half was subsequently shifted to the United Arab Emirates, with Chennai Super Kings led by former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni winning their fourth IPL title by beating Kolkata Knight Riders in the final in Dubai.
(US$1 = 74.9493 Indian rupees)
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru and Amlan Chakraborty in Sharjah; Editing by Christian Radnedge)