UAE cricket received a setback on Thursday after it was announced that the proposed UAE T20x tournament will not take place this year.
The Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) stated that failure to complete the sale of franchise rights within the stipulated time meant it wasn’t possible to go ahead with the tournament. The statement from the board also said that a potential cap on franchise tournaments from the world body – ICC – affected potential commercial partnerships.
“Following talks between the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) and event promoter OPi, it has been mutually agreed that the planned UAE T20x franchise cricket league will not take place in the UAE this coming December / January,” the statement said.
“The decision follows the conclusion of the Invitation to Tender (ITT) process for tournament franchises. Both the ECB and OPi had been hopeful of achieving the sale of five franchise teams for the first year of the tournament, and whilst negotiations had been completed on two franchise teams and a further three were well advanced, it was felt that there was no longer sufficient time to close the sales process and to successfully deliver and promote a December event.
“OPi, a privately-owned sports promoter, and the ECB had been working together since 2017 to develop the new franchise league, and had attracted interest and support from many of the world’s leading players and coaches. The decision of the International Cricket Council (ICC) in July to explore potential limitations on T20 cricket leagues and player participation in them, meant that investment into UAE T20x had to be curtailed throughout the summer in anticipation of a decision. This in turn impacted timings around commercial conversations with potential franchise buyers.”
Sri Lanka great Kumar Sangakkara had recently joined Pakistani legend Shahid Afridi as the star attraction in the tournament alongside England’s Eoin Morgan, South Africa’s David Miller and West Indian Andre Russell.
UAE T20x was supposed to have five franchise teams. Each squad of 16 was expected to feature international star players, four emerging and junior players, three ICC Associate Member players, and three UAE national players.
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