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IPL: Delhi Capitals, India's T20 underachievers

Business of IPL

Yahoo Finance UK
Delhi Capitals' David Warner watches the ball after playing a shot during the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket match between Delhi Capitals and Mumbai Indians at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in New Delhi on April 11, 2023. (Photo by Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP) (Photo by SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images)
Delhi Capitals' David Warner hits out in the 2023 Indian Premier League edition. Photo: Getty Images (SAJJAD HUSSAIN via Getty Images)

Delhi Capitals, coached by Ricky Ponting, may be a profitable Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket franchise, but for all their star name attraction — signing the likes of AB de Villiers, Kevin Pietersen and Mahela Jayawardene over the years — they have flattered to deceive since the league’s inaugural 2008 season.

Twice semi-finalists in the first two years of the IPL, the Capitals have made only one appearance in a final, in 2020, when they finished runners-up. They were previously the only franchise not to have made a final berth.

The start of 2023 edition has not fared well for the Delhi side. They were set to become the first team to be out of play-off contention following a luckless run of five opening defeats, before beating Kolkata Knight Riders in their sixth match of the campaign.

Star players

David Warner – Australia

The quickest to 6,000 IPL runs and billed as the best overseas batsman in the T20 league’s history, 2022 saw the Australian opener return to the franchise where his IPL journey began.

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Read More: Mumbai Indians, the trophy-laden franchise laced with Bollywood support

He continues to accumulate runs for the Capitals — despite the added pressure of taking on the captaincy role after Rishabh Pant’s car crash in December.

Axar Patel – India

Warner’s deputy, left-hander Patel has turned into a key all-rounder alongside his orthodox spin for the Capitals, having been with the franchise since 2019 and joining from Kings XI Punjab.

Delhi Capitals' Axar Patel celebrates after scoring a half-century (50 runs) during the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket match between Delhi Capitals and Mumbai Indians at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in New Delhi on April 11, 2023. (Photo by Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP) (Photo by SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images)
Delhi Capitals' Axar Patel celebrates after scoring a half-century during the Indian Premier League in April 2023. Photo: Getty Images (SAJJAD HUSSAIN via Getty Images)

Behind the Capitals’ brand

The Delhi franchise was first purchased by Kiran Grandhi, of construction and infrastructure conglomerate GMR group (GMRINFRA.NS), in 2008 for $84m (£67.5m). Indian business conglomerate Jindal South West (JSWSTEEL.NS) Sports bought a 50% controlling stake for $77m in 2018, doubling the valuation of the franchise to $170m.

Grandhi — an ever-present at Delhi’s IPL auction table over the years — is the CEO, managing director and director of GMR, also chairman of the franchise side. Parth Jindal, Delhi Capitals now co-owner, is also managing director of JSW Cement and Paints and founder of the Inspire Institute of Sport and director JSW Sport.

INDIA - SEPTEMBER 22:  Kiran Kumar Grandhi, Chairman, Airports, GMR Group, at Hyderabad International Airport construction site in Hyderabad, India.  (Photo by A Prabhakar Rao/The The India Today Group via Getty Images)
Delhi Capital's co-owner Kiran Kumar Grandhi, of GMR Group. Photo: Getty Images (The India Today Group via Getty Images)

The Capitals were originally called the Delhi Daredevils but sought change in 2019 after the co-ownership was signed, and in a bid to turnaround the franchise’s performances on the pitch. “Delhi is the power centre of the country, it is the capital, therefore the name Delhi Capitals," Jindal said at the time.

Under the current ownership deal, the chairmanship changes every two years between GMR and JSW. The Capitals’ logo is inspired by the design of Parliament House, while the three tigers idea is derived from the Ashok Chakra.

Delhi Capitals team owner Parth Jindal (C) arrives for the Indian Premier League 2019 auction in Jaipur on December 18, 2018, as teams prepare their player rosters ahead of the upcoming Twenty20 cricket tournament next year. The 2019 edition of the IPL -- one of the world's most-watched sporting events attracting the world's top stars -- is set to take place in April and May next year.(Photo By Vishal Bhatnagar/NurPhoto via Getty Images) (Photo by Vishal Bhatnagar/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Delhi Capitals team owner Parth Jindal, third from right, arrives for the IPL 2019 auction in Jaipur. Photo: Getty Images (NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The Capital’s brand value is estimated close to $50m, while revenue doubled in 2022 after establishing new digital partnerships (it also has around 25 sponsors in total) and creating significant audience engagement on the back of the pandemic.

The money spinners

Off field deals shaping the IPL has undoubtedly helped the Delhi franchise’s coffers. The revision in the IPL's media rights fees ($6.2bn for 2023-27) ensured a hefty annual share to each of the ten franchises.

“With player salaries capped, unlike football, and operational expenses limited, franchises still stand to make a good profit,” an IPL insider said. “Although Delhi has never won the title and doesn't make big money from gate receipts, it doesn't affect their profits.”

Read More: Chennai Super Kings, the power franchise led by MS Dhoni

Delhi bought a stake in the Seattle franchise of the United States’ new T20 league, continuing the IPL teams’ theme of expanding their global footprint. Capitals co-owner GMR Group partnered with a group of investors, including Microsoft Corp's India-born CEO Satya Nadella to own and run Seattle Orcas in Major League Cricket. Delhi already owns sides in men's T20 leagues in South Africa and the United Arab Emirates, as well as India’s own Women's Premier League.

NEW DELHI, INDIA - MARCH 18: Cricketers Prithvi Shaw, Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer and Shikhar Dhawan of Delhi Capitals in a candid moment sporting the new jersey at the Daikin India team shoot, at ITC Maurya, on March 18, 2019 in New Delhi, India. The Delhi IPL team gets a makeover with a new name, Delhi Capitals, along with new faces and a new jersey. (Photo by Gokul VS/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
Prithvi Shaw, Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer and Shikhar Dhawan of Delhi Capitals in a candid moment sporting the new jersey at the Daikin India team shoot in 2019 in New Delhi, India. Photo: Getty Images (Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

The Capitals have also reaped the reward from the sale of team shares given the co-ownership deal, while they remain a leading franchise in terms of sponsorship and gate receipts. The JSW deal also included a top-tier sponsorship agreement, with the company logo prominent on team shirts and at Delhi’s stadium until the culmination of the 2023 edition.

Did you know…

  • Produce the form in front of millions and rewards can follow. Just ask Axar Patel, whose solid IPL in 2020 saw him called up for India’s Test squad. The following summer he took 27 English wickets in three Tests, the highest by an Indian in his debut series.

  • Delhi Capitals are the only franchise to finish in every position – from one to 10 – of the IPL league standings.

  • Delhi’s own Rishabh Pant set an IPL record when he became the youngest to score 1,000 runs. It came during his blistering 128 off just 63 balls in May 2018, which included 15 fours and 7 sixes. At the time, his unbeaten knock was the highest by an Indian in the IPL.

What they say…

“This varied combination of brands is a testament of how the IPL as a single platform provides the best outreach into a very diverse demographic. This is a unique proposition that no other Indian origin platform can provide.” Co-owner Parth Jindal on Delhi Capitals’ brand attraction