Indian super star Shah Rukh Khan’s Knight Riders Group has acquired the rights to own and operate Abu Dhabi Knight Riders, a franchise in the United Arab Emirates’ new T20 cricket league.
The investment is led by Khan, along with Juhi Chawla and her husband Jay Mehta. It is the fourth Knight Riders-owned T20 franchise, after previous team launches in the Indian Premier League (IPL), Caribbean Premier League and Major League Cricket in the U.S.
T20 is a quick-play, made-for-TV version of cricket, a sport that is wildly popular in the Indian subcontinent and parts of the Middle East.
The UAE’s T20 League is a professional franchise-based tournament with six franchise teams competing in a 34-match event. Reliance Industries Limited, Lancer Capital, the GMR Group, Capri Global and Knight Riders have acquired a team each. The League claims good infrastructure and a time zone that is favorable for audiences in the Indian subcontinent and in West Europe.
Khan and the Knight Riders Group recently made a significant investment in MLC, with plans to set up a franchise in the greater Los Angeles area. “For several years now, we have been expanding the Knight Riders brand globally and closely watching the potential for T20 cricket in the UAE. We are excited about becoming part of UAE’s T20 League, which no doubt will become hugely successful,” said Khan in a prepared statement.
Khan, one of the biggest movie stars of all time in India, has been relatively absent from cinema screens since 2018, and has focused instead on business development. However, releases of his recent film productions will bookend the beginning and end of 2023.
Khalid Al Zarooni, UAE’s T20 League chairman said: “The commitment to grow the T20 format and the expertise gathered by the Knight Riders Group, is undisputed. We are exceptionally pleased with their foresight to join forces with the UAE’s T20 League and firmly believe it will elevate the reputation, and professionalism of the League throughout the cricket community.”
Khan tweeted the day after the deal was announced: “Don’t want to sound formal as we are like a family all of us in the organisation. But a big thank u to @VenkyMysore and his band of soldiers at @KKRiders for making this a reality. Onwards to newer terrains with cricket!!!”
Don’t want to sound formal as we are like a family all of us in the organisation. But a big thank u to @VenkyMysore and his band of soldiers at @KKRiders for making this a reality. Onwards to newer terrains with cricket!!! https://t.co/O2marlSEHl
— Shah Rukh Khan (@iamsrk) May 13, 2022