MUMBAI: The celebrity factor in cricket just got higher with actress Shilpa Shetty picking up a 12 per cent stake in Indian Premier League (IPL) team Rajasthan Royals for $16.8 million (about Rs 80.6 crores). Shetty has picked up the stake along with her London based entrepreneur beau Raj Kundra.
Other Bollywood celebs who own a pie in various IPL teams are: Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla (Kolkata Knight Riders) and Preity Zinta and Ness Wadia (Kings XI).
Kundra is the CEO of Essential General Trading LLC, a Dubai based international trading company dealing in precious metals, construction, mining and green renewable energy projects, whereas Shetty is the CEO of S2 Global Productions, which is her film production company. The announcement was made by Rajasthan Royals chairman and joint owner Manoj Badale.
Badale said, "It is our pleasure to welcome our new investors Raj Kundra and Shilpa Shetty to the Royals. The selling of this stake is part of our long-term strategic approach to build the Rajasthan Royals into a global sports brand. Our resources are already focused on on-field investment in the key areas of player development infrastructure; international expansion; and to also support continued investment in our playing staff. However, this investment enhances the off-field commercial potential of a brand already recognised throughout India, and much of the global cricketing world."
Kundra added, "The benefits to us of investing in this venture were to complement the assets of last year’s professionally managed champions. We can add the winning formula of Bollywood to create a true global cricket brand. I believe that the addition of Shilpa Shetty creates a multitude of commercial opportunities – for sponsors, for merchandisers and for ancillary development opportunities."
Shetty said, "We have taken a strategic approach by investing in Rajasthan Royals – whose brand values we associate strongly with. Cricket is not a sport in our country, it’s a religion. I am very passionate about cricket and who better to invest in than the current reigning IPL champions. It completes the success story for the IPL team by merging with Bollywood."
As part of their strategic development of the Rajasthan Royals brand, the franchisee has lined up a slew of initiatives and licensing and merchandising plans to enable their supporters to connect with the team and the brand. Rajasthan Royals recently created and launched a five-tier Royals Army fan club membership programme by adopting global best practices and combined with elements that make the packages attractive for their community of fans both locally and globally.
The Royals Army membership programme has five fan categories, Maharaja Club, Captain’s Club, Royal Lions Club, Royal Bugles Club and Young Royals Club, with membership fees ranging between Rs 2,500 and Rs 1.5 lakh. The benefits for the members include season tickets, autographed bats, official team jerseys, preferential access to tickets sold online and invitations to the season ending party.