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Five IPL teams interested in buying stakes in Hundred club London Spirit: MCC chief Mark Nicholas

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London, Jun 19 (PTI) MCC president Mark Nicholas has revealed that five IPL teams have expressed “soft” interest in acquiring a stake in London Spirit, the Lord’s based team participating in The Hundred here.

Nicholas, also a veteran commentator and writer, is set to take over as the Spirit’s chairman later this October.

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Nicholas has based his revelation on a recent letter by MCC CEO Guy Lavender to the members, seeking their approval for England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB)’s offer to privatise 49 per cent stake in the Spirit.

He, however, did not reveal which IPL teams have shown their interest in buying stakes. Those stakeholders will be finalised through a bidding process, and the remaining 51 per cent will remain with the franchise.

“What we are putting to a vote is to accept the ECB’s offer of a 51 per cent share of this franchise (Spirit). We will always be a members’ club.

“The first target is membership harmony because as a member you are entitled to a view,” Nicholas said at the Lord’s while announcing the inaugural ‘World Cricket Connects’ symposium here on July 5.

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The symposium is expected to be attended by BCCI secretary Jay Shah, outgoing India coach Rahul Dravid and his England counterpart Brendon McCullum along with representatives of some IPL franchises.

However, he said the pathway to the bidding process is still being worked out by the ECB.

“But the real truth is that not everything is clear yet. For example, how would the bidding process take place? What’s the rollout of these franchises in the bidding? We don’t know that yet.

“The ECB haven’t declared that. We have met the investment bank – I’m not sure they even know yet. There’s still a lot for us to learn,” Nicholas was quoted as saying by ‘ESPNCricinfo’.

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Nicholas also said it was only prudent for the English cricket eco-system to try and exploit the booming world of franchise cricket, having missed it over two decades ago.

“We missed out on T20 in 2003 where we could have grabbed it. India thought quicker than us and were smarter than us, as India often is. India moves at an extraordinary pace to make things work,” said Nicholas.

Nicholas, a former First-Class cricketer of repute with Hampshire for whom he scored over 18,000 runs in county cricket, said the second opportunity that has been presented to English cricket through ‘The Hundred’ should not be missed.

“The Hundred has given us another opportunity. The MCC membership quite likes being part of the chat, not being consigned to a piece of history. The members I talk to really love the idea of having a team (an MCC team in the Hundred), love the opportunity that it brings.

“There will be financial opportunity, either in growth of the equity or in sale of the equity,” he said.

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