February 8, 2010 2:00 am

Indian cricket club's partnership drive

The commercial rise of Indian cricket will take a further step today with the launch of a partnership between the Rajasthan Royals and four other clubs around the world.

Under the partnership, club sides from England, South Africa, Australia and the West Indies will play Twenty20 tournaments in their countries using the Royals' name.

Hampshire of England, Cape Cobras of South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago and Victoria in Australia will wear the same kit, play each other in cricket "festivals" and loan players to each other.

The Rajasthan Royals team, owned by Emerging Media group whose investors include News Corp director Lachlan Murdoch and Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty, was the inaugural winner of the Twenty20 competition in India in 2008.

The Royals2020 partnership would give its club partners a presence in the Indian Premier League (IPL), which attracts sponsors such as Vodafone and Citigroup and last month signed an internet broadcasting deal with Google.

Manoj Badale, chairman of the Rajasthan Royals, said the partnership would increase the value of sponsorship and generate income from new events, such as the festivals.

"We are looking to have a business that generates $3m to $4m of profit in the next few years," said Mr Badale who will present the plan at Lord's with Rajasthan Royals captain Shane Warne.

The venture comes ahead of an auction, expected later this month, for two new IPL franchises, with base prices set at $225m, double the highest amount paid at the 2008 auction.

Mr Badale said that if franchises sold at such prices, the Royals' partnership could be worth $50m in a few years.

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