Skip to content Skip to Search
Skip navigation

Yorkshire County Cricket Club seeks Mena investors

YCCC Yorkshire County Cricket Season 2023 Imago/SW Pix via Reuters
Yorkshire County Cricket Club is seeking investors to help develop the sport in the Middle East

The Middle East could play a pivotal role in the future of county cricket in the UK, according to a leading sports economist.

It was revealed this week that Yorkshire County Cricket Club has recruited the services of audit and advisory firm Grant Thornton to seek out investment from potential backers in the Middle East.

Simon Chadwick, professor of sport and geopolitical economy at Skema Business School in Paris, told AGBI: “England remains one of cricket’s spiritual homes, albeit with some challenges ahead – particularly what happens to traditional, five-day county matches. 

“Yet there is clearly some value in other, shorter forms for cricket that are drawing large crowds, lucrative sponsorship deals, and big TV contracts. 

“This suggests that there are interesting times ahead for cricket, if appropriate funding and management are in place.”

Yorkshire CCC, which owns the historic Headingley ground in Leeds, is seeking investors. It owes around £15 million ($18.7 million) to grant-making body the Graves Trust, and payment in full is due by October 2024.

The club’s CEO Stephen Vaughan said: “We believe that by investing in Yorkshire County Cricket Club, a strategic investor will not only make a significant impact on the club, but also contribute to the growth and development of the sport both in the UK and across the Mena region.”

A large proportion of the target investor pool is based in the UAE and India, with additional names from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Grant Thornton told Reuters.

It added that sovereign wealth funds, family offices and private equity investors were being looked at “as part of a wider refinancing exercise” at Yorkshire, but did not give further details.

One of 18 first-class county clubs in England and Wales, Yorkshire’s first team is the most successful in English cricket, having claimed 33 county championship titles (one of which was shared).

The club, however, is emerging from a turbulent period following a racism scandal, which resulted in six-figure pay-outs to former players and whistle-blower Azeem Rafiq and the subsequent sacking of 16 individuals.

Local interest

The UAE is home to the International Cricket Council (ICC) and has played host to top international matches in the long format, one day internationals and T20.

It has staged matches from the lucrative Indian Premier League, while the DP World ILT20 by Emirates Cricket Board debuted this year.

Oil giant Saudi Aramco is currently the sponsor of all of the Dubai-based ICC events through to the end of this year, which includes this year’s one-day World Cup in India.

Haroon Ahmed, partner at Grant Thornton UAE, said: “Cricket is a growing sport in the region, and we believe that Yorkshire County Cricket Club is uniquely well-positioned to capitalise on this opportunity.”

However, Chadwick suggested the Middle East may not be the only region looking to take advantage of cricket’s popularity.

He said: “It is also worth keeping in mind that South Asian migrants in the US are also behind a growing interest in cricket. This suggests there are further, global, opportunities ahead.”

The Middle East is already heavily involved in the sporting sector.

Gulf states hold investments in football, golf, Formula 1, cycling and wrestling, while several high-profile boxing matches have been held in Saudi Arabia. The 2029 Asian Winter Games will take place in Trojena of Neom, Saudi Arabia.

Latest articles

ADQ's holdings include Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (Taqa) and are worth almost $200 billion

ADQ: how Abu Dhabi’s ‘baby’ fund is finding its feet

Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund ADQ may be the younger, smaller sibling of ADIA and Mubadala but there are no signs of an inferiority complex as it executes billion-dollar deals at home and overseas. Most notable was the $35 billion agreement signed with the Egyptian government in February this year to develop Ras El Hekma, […]

Suriname oil

QatarEnergies buys into Suriname oil expansion

The state-owned giant QatarEnergy has signed a deal with US oil company Chevron to acquire a 20 percent interest in a production-sharing contract for an offshore concession in the South American country of Suriname. Chevron will keep a 40 percent interest in Surname’s block 5, as will Paradise Oil, an affiliate of Suriname’s national oil […]


Rakbank plans first bond to fund social projects

The National Bank of Ras Al Khaimah (Rakbank) is planning to launch its first social bond issuance, a news report has said. The Abu Dhabi-listed bank is seeking bids for the five-year benchmark-sized dollar-denominated bond, Reuters reported. The initial price was set at 170 basis points over US Treasuries, with the final pricing expected on confirmed […]

The proposed sharia standard 62, which aims to transition the industry towards asset-backed sukuk, will not affect 2024 issuance, says S&P

Sharia standard 62 may disrupt sukuk market, says S&P

Global sukuk issuances are likely to suffer next year if the proposed standard 62 sukuk changes to sharia guidelines are implemented, according to credit rating agency S&P. “Adopting Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions standard 62 guidelines as they have been presented could disrupt the market,” it said in a new report. The […]