Sadiq Khan vows to bring Indian Premier League games to London as part of re-election campaign

Will Macpherson
·2-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has thrown his weight behind bringing the Indian Premier League to the capital as he seeks re-election next month.

The 14th edition of the IPL gets underway behind closed doors in Chennai today, with champions Mumbai Indians meeting Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Khan, who batted and bowled this morning against junior players at Kingstonian Cricket Club in south-west London, would like to bring fixtures in future editions of the tournament to Lord’s and the Kia Oval. The first step, he believes, is to hold exhibition matches involving IPL teams, perhaps as soon as this year. It follows bringing NFL to London at Wembley and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, and MLB to the London Stadium in 2019.

Full editions of the IPL have previously been held outside India: in South Africa due to security issues in 2009, and the UAE due to Covid-19.

In 2009, Rajasthan Royals played Middlesex at Lord’s in what was due to be the first iteration of the British Asian Cup, pitting the IPL winners against England’s T20 champions. The match drew a decent crowd, but was never repeated.

The Royals seem the likeliest team to want to bring games to London, as they have strong ties to the UK, starting with the presence of four England stars — including Ben Stokes — on their roster.

Getty Images
Getty Images

Khan says he would like to take games around the country, to Leeds and Birmingham, and that Surrey are “beginning the conversation” with Indian cricket authorities (BCCI). “Surrey are speaking to teams in India and colleagues in the BCCI and IPL,” he said. “The first step will be friendlies and exhibition matches. We want to get them going, maybe even this year if we make progress as we are doing with the pandemic. It has to be Covid-safe, of course. We have to bang the drum for our city, and sport is one way to do this.”

There is no indication that the BCCI are looking to take games outside India any time soon and even in a post-Covid landscape such a move would be fraught with logistical difficulties.

Khan will have less difficulty persuading the two London cricket venues that this is a good idea; Surrey have made their appetite abundantly clear, and released a joint statement today with MCC, who own Lord’s, supporting the Mayor’s plans.

“This is part of my plan to build a better London after the pandemic,” added Khan. “I know Londoners are hungry to see more of the likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant and, with two of the world’s greatest cricket grounds in Lord’s and The Kia Oval, London is ideally placed to host IPL matches. I know we can see our capital confirmed as the undisputed sporting capital of the world.”

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