- Offer described as ‘game-changing’ for counties
- ECB reportedly unlikely to accept bid
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has received a UK£400 million (US$484.2 million) private equity bid for a majority stake in The Hundred, according to Sky News.
The governing body has reportedly received an approach for a 75 per cent share of the competition from Bridgepoint Group, a London-listed buyout firm, in what would be a welcome injection of funds for the sport’s counties.
British businessman Allan Leighton, who has previously worked with Bridgepoint on several investments, has reportedly been working with the firm in putting together its offer.
The Sky News report added that any potential deal would help accelerate investment into English cricket, as well as help develop the women’s game.
While the offer was described to Sky News as a ‘game-changing’ approach that would likely receive extensive support from the counties, the outlet also added that the bid is unlikely to succeed. Both Bridgepoint and the ECB declined to comment to Sky News on the reported offer.
New ECB chair Richard Thompson is cautious about the prospect of external investment in The Hundred, having said the tournament needs space for growth.
He recently told the Guardian: “There’s a feeding frenzy at the moment – rights holders have never seen a rise like the one they have [recently] and the Hundred will undoubtedly get more and more interest as a unique format that finds an audience the others don’t.
“We’re open but treading carefully in that space. We’re not going early. It’s just two years old, we can’t get greedy, we have to see it play out. The worst thing would be to do something too early, then see the value go through the roof and you’ve lost out and someone else benefits. It’s important to let it grow and develop first.”
Bridgepoint has previously made bids for other major sports properties and was previously linked with buying a minority stake in English soccer’s Women’s Super League (WSL). As well as owning MotoGP commercial rights holder Dorna Sports, it was also among the companies rumoured to be interested in investing in both the Bundesliga and Ligue 1’s media rights businesses.
The Hundred was launched by the ECB in 2021. More than 500,000 people attended games in its second season, with a record 271,000 spectators going to women’s matches. The governing body also said that over 14 million viewers watched some of the tournament on both pay-TV network Sky Sports and public service broadcaster the BBC.
While Sky has since renewed its broadcast rights deal with the ECB for four more years, a terrestrial broadcast partner for 2025 to 2028 has yet to be finalised.