WPL is the gamechanger in the world of women's cricket

<br>In terms of money, the players involved, and the overall business it has already generated and is likely to create once the action starts, the inaugural edition of the WPL is turning out to be richer than the best cricket leagues and is comparable with the top leagues in football and basketball.

The league, which has five city-based teams, has raised Rs 4,669 crore ($580 million) through the auction of franchise rights. Several big corporates showed interest and five of them bought franchise rights for five years – from 2023 to 2027 – generating huge interest.

The Adani Group won the rights to the Ahmedabad franchise for Rs 1,289 crore ($155 million), the Reliance Group-owned Indiawin Sports Pvt Ltd bagged the Mumbai franchise for Rs 912.99 crore ($110 million), GMR-JSW Cricket Pvt Ltd won the Delhi franchise for Rs 810 crore ($100 million), Capri Global holdings won the Lucknow franchise for Rs 757 crore ($95 million) while the Royal Challengers Sports Pvt Ltd, owned by alcohol manufacturing company Diageo, won the Bangalore franchise for Rs 901 crore ($110 million).

The money raised by the WPL through the auction of the franchise rights, awarding of title rights and broadcast rights and other sponsorship deals makes it, according to Ampere Analytics – a media research firm, the world’s second-highest-valued women’s sports league just behind the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) in the US.

Though it is yet to be seen how much revenue the WPL will generate for the franchises, the owners are expected to suffer losses initially despite the BCCI pledging to distribute 80 per cent of the profits from the competition among the franchise owners during the first five years.

The BCCI has also decided that for the next five seasons, 60 per cent of the profits will be shared with the team owners, and from seasons 11 to 15, 50 per cent of the profits will be distributed. Additionally, 80 per cent of the revenue from the central licensing rights for the competition will be shared with the franchises.

The franchises, most of them owned by owners who own successful teams in the Indian Premier League (IPL), will also generate revenue through merchandise, ticket sales and advertising. So, it is expected that they may break even and also earn some profit towards the end of the first five-year period. This is a rough estimate projected based on how things have evolved in the cash-rich IPL.

In comparison, the Women’s NBA for the first time in its history raised investments of $75 million in 2022 in a bid to revamp its business model as players call for expansion, higher salaries and better benefits.

The WNBA is currently owned half by the 30 NBA teams, and half by the 12 WNBA teams. It is the first time that it has diluted Ownership on both sides to attract investors though the league has declined to disclose the size of the stake the new investors are taking in the company, the valuation of the’deal or the league’s annual revenue.

The NBA commissioner Adam Silver had a few years ago informed that the WNBA has suffered losses to the tune of $10 million annually since its inaugural season in 1997. The WNBA has regularly generated revenues to the tune of $50 million while causing expenses of around $60 million.

In comparison, the two top existing women’s cricket leagues – the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) in Australia and the Women’s Hundred of England have quite low down the list in terms of total valuation.

Both these leagues have eight teams that are owned by pre-existing entities – like the state cricket associations in the case of WBBL and existing County Clubs in the case of England.

The WPL is also quite comparable to the big leagues in terms of salary structure. The top picks in the WPL auction – Smriti Mandhana, who bagged a whopping bid of Rs 3.4 ‘rore ($409,969), Australia’s Ashleigh Gardner (Rs 3.2’cr – $385,853) and England’s Natalie Sciver-Brunt (Rs 3.2 crore), Deepti Sharma (Rs 2.6 crore), Jemimah Rodrigues (Rs 2.2 crore), Shafali Verma (Rs 2 crore) and Harmanpreet Kaur (Rs 1.8 crore).

In comparison, the WBBL players as per a 2021-22 agreement handed out an average of $58,000 and $211,000 respectively to domestic and national team players.

Since then, Cricket Australia and the ACA have given a boost of $400,000 to the WBBL, resulting in a 22 per cent and 14 per cent pay rise for players in each respective league.

Because of the current boost of $1.2 million, 98 women players were signed to a WNCL state contract for the 2021-22 season — not including the 15 national players with a more lucrative Cricket Australia deal, 76 of whom also held a WBBL contract.

The player salaries in WBBL have increased from $13,000 for domestic and $59,000 to the current average of $87,000 to 211,000.

In the case of the WNBA, revenue is shared as per the Collective Bargain Agreement (CBA), which took effect in 2020 and will be in force till 2027, and has resulted in significantly increased minimum and maximum salaries.

The minimum league salary in 2020 was $57,000 for players with less than three years of experience, and $68,000 otherwise. For most players, the 2020 maximum salary was $185,000; players who met specified criteria for league service had a maximum of $215,000.

The players are awarded bonuses for certain achievements – WNBA champion: $11,356; runner-up: $5,678; Most Valuable Player: $15,450; All-WNBA First Team member: $10,300; and All-Star Game participant: $2,575.

The FA Women’s Super League, the top women’s football league in the world, involves more players as it has 12 teams and top WSL players can earn up to 200,000 pounds a year, with salaries starting at roughly ‘0,000 pounds annually.

The National Women’s Soccer League of the US has a salary cap set at $52,500 (compared to $50,000 the previous year) in 2021, while the minimum salary rose by 10 per cent to $22,000.

The average wage for an NWSL player is reported to be in the region of $53,000 a year – which would equate to roughly 38,000 pounds.

This all proves that the top WPL players are likely to earn more than the top players in other women’s leagues around the world and it is expected that things are likely to improve in the coming years.

It is sure to give women’s cricket in the country the momentum it needs in the next few years.


Agency News Desk
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