The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has promised to bring the exciting Indian Premier League (IPL) to the British capital as he seeks to establish the city as the “undisputed sporting capital” of the world. Khan’s vow came ahead of his re-election bid for the post of London mayor next month.
The 14th edition of the IPL is going on behind closed doors in India, with 8 teams vying for the coveted trophy. Khan hopes future editions of the tournament could be conducted on London grounds such as Lord’s and the Oval, the headquarters of county side Surrey.
“The IPL is an incredible league. Though I’m desperate not just to see Kohli and others here when India come (to England) as they are this year but to see the likes of Dhoni, Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah come here on a regular basis,” Khan said at Kingstonian Cricket Club in south-west London on Friday.
London has organised many sports events, be it NFL, MLB or NBA fixtures in the past, with the support of Surrey. Khan aims to add the IPL to that list.
“I have iterated it many times before. I want to see London restore its place as the sporting capital of the world. I want this to be the undisputed sporting capital of the world,” Khan added.
“We have had major sporting events in our city. The Major League Basketball, NFL for 10 years, all happened here. You saw the impact of Joshua v Klitschko,” said Khan, adding that the benefits of organising sporting events rubs off on hotels, restaurants and bars as well.
Sadiq Khan also highlighted the investment done by India in London. He claimed India is a massive investor in the city and the number one city in Europe that India invests in.
“Indians love cricket, we love cricket, we love Indians. We want this to be a bridge between India and London and Surrey deserve huge credit in being pioneers and with their vision to get IPL here,” Khan said.
The London mayor also added that not just London, but he would like to take the game in other parts of the country as well, to Leeds and Birmingham. He said Surrey are beggining their conversation with the Indian cricket authorities (BCCI) to get the IPL in England.
“Surrey are speaking to teams in India and colleagues in the BCCI and IPL. 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,” Khan said.
However, there has been no indication from the BCCI that it intends to take the Indian Premier League out of India. Besides, in the post-COVID world, such a move could prove to be a logistical nightmare.
So far, the IPL has been conducted twice outside India—one in 2009 when it was staged in South Africa due to security issues and last year in the United Arab Emirates because of the coronavirus pandemic.