Rajasthan Royals, an Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise, have reportedly presented a substantial buyout offer to the English county club Yorkshire CCC.
If this offer proceeds and gains acceptance, Yorkshire will become the first county club to fall under the ownership of an overseas franchise.
The proposal from Rajasthan Royals stands at an impressive £25 million (equivalent to approximately INR 260 crore). Should this transaction go through, it would confer full operational control of the club to the Royals, thus concluding Yorkshire's long-standing tradition of member-only ownership spanning more than 160 years.
The biggest reason Yorkshire CCC is up for sale and is looking for new stakeholders to take over the club is because of their staggering debt burden, which amounts to £15 million. This amount is owed to the family trust of the former chairman, Colin Graves.
Various potential buyers have shown interest in assuming ownership of the county club recently, with discussions occurring between Yorkshire and multiple IPL franchises, including possibly selling the team to Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan Al Saud, a Saudi prince.
It has also come to light that Yorkshire CCC is in talks of selling the club to Mike Ashley, the former owner of the Premier League club, Newcastle United. Ashley had previously sold Newcastle United to the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF).
However, the difference between the proposed deal with Rajasthan Royals and other interested parties is in the Royals' insistence on obtaining complete ownership of the club.
On the other hand, other bidders appear inclined to uphold the longstanding tradition of member-only ownership that has been maintained by the club for more than a century and a half.
Currently, out of the 18 county clubs, 15 are controlled by members, with the exceptions being Hampshire, Durham and Northamptonshire, which have English owners.
Addressing the debt issue, Rajasthan Royals intend to issue a loan note to Yorkshire, which would subsequently be converted into equity.
Rajasthan Royals look to make further inroads in foreign leagues
The offer from the inaugural IPL champions is scheduled for discussion with Yorkshire's board of members in the second half of September 2023. A final decision is expected to follow soon after that.
In the event that this deal materializes, Rajasthan Royals will look to make inroads into The Hundred as well. Yorkshire CCC have a substantial stake in The Hundred franchise, Northern Superchargers. and this would allow the Royals to expand their footprint in England.
Currently, Rajasthan Royals have ownership in the CPL team Barbados Royals and also own the SA20 franchise Paarl Royals.
Currently, London businessman Manoj Badale and his company, Emerging Media, have majority stakes in Rajasthan Royals while RedBird Capital, along with Lachlan Murdoch, serve as notable investors.