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Earning potential for players in the IPL eclipses all others

Royal Challengers Bangalore and other IPL franchises willing to shell out big money on a walking billboard like Yuvraj Singh because of their marketing potential, says Paul Radley.
Yuvraj Singh, seen here playing for the Pune Warriors in the 2011 edition of the Indian Premier League, fetched US$2.3 million at the 2014 auction. But with his marketing potential, his new franchise, the Royal Challengers Bangalore, must have been happy to make him the most expensive player this year. Punit Paranjpe / AFP
Yuvraj Singh, seen here playing for the Pune Warriors in the 2011 edition of the Indian Premier League, fetched US$2.3 million at the 2014 auction. But with his marketing potential, his new franchise, the Royal Challengers Bangalore, must have been happy to make him the most expensive player this year. Punit Paranjpe / AFP

Paul Radley

When the Indian Premier League (IPL) arrives here next week, its gilded stars will think nothing of booking dinner at Reflets par Pierre Gagnier and ordering whatever they fancy on the menu.

Until they get their break in the IPL, though, the majority of cricketers would just be happy to get a table at Ravi’s in Satwa.

For six weeks, cricket’s leading players get to live like the stars of other world sports.

Top-bracket Indian players earn about US$200,000 (Dh734,000) annually from their basic central contracts from their national board, or about $15,500 per month.

For the same amount of time in the IPL, Yuvraj Singh, who fetched the highest price of any player in the most recent auction, will earn $1.5m – 100 times more.

It is not far behind the stars of other sports. After his lucrative summer transfer, Gareth Bale reportedly earns about $2m per month playing football for Real Madrid.

In another bat-and-ball game, the average Major League Baseball player earns just under $4m per year, or $333,333 (Dh1.2m) per month.

The IPL market significantly exceeds anything offered by the other T20 leagues and is a world away from what cricket could offer before the IPL’s inception in 2008.

Securing the services of a walking billboard like MS Dhoni or Yuvraj is usually regarded as good business whatever the rate.

The prime real estate of shirt-front sponsorship is said to command a basic rate of $1.67m and can be as much as double that.

“Yuvraj and Dhoni, for example, demand such a high profile anything they pay for them is probably worth it in terms of their sponsors,” said Steven Musgrove, a UK-based players agent.

The players are usually paid 25 per cent of their fee within 30 days of the auction, the next 25 per cent after the first game, the next quarter half way through, and the remainder up to one month after the competition.

The contracts that began this season are guaranteed for only one campaign, but the franchises have the option of retaining the players for up to three seasons.

While for the game’s biggest stars the IPL means the rich get richer, for players of middling repute success at auction can be life changing.

Take Chris Morris. Heard of him? He is a South African seam bowler of minimal renown or international experience, yet he was bought for $625,000 last year.

He caught the eye of Chennai in the Champions League T20 with his performance with the ball for the Lions, his home franchise.

He entered the 2013 auction at a base price of $20,000 and was eventually sold for more than 31 times that amount.

“The sums you can make are phenomenal,” Musgrove said. “When Chris Morris was bought by Chennai for $625,000, he will never have thought he would see money like that in his life.”

Despite the success stories, cricket still has plenty of have-nots. The gap between the rich of the IPL and the poor elsewhere is cavernous.

The earning power of English players remains inhibited by a clash in seasons, although domestic cricket in the UK still offers a passable living.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s players, many of whom would command a substantial following in India, are excluded because of non-cricket reasons.

Shahid Afridi, for instance, sold for $675,000 in the first auction to Deccan Chargers. Now that Pakistani players are not welcome in the league, his basic wage extends to a monthly $3,800 from his country’s board, plus whatever else he can make playing in the UK, Australia and Bangladesh.

“The money is life-changing,” said Umran Khan, who represents Afridi and Saeed Ajmal through his management company, Aces Middle East.

“If he was to play in the IPL the money he would get would probably be on a par with some of the top Indian players. Saeed Ajmal could go in the top bracket as well.”

pradley@thenational.ae

Published: April 9, 2014 04:00 AM

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