BCCI will have to cross several hurdles to make IPL a reality in the extraordinary circumstances that have arisen due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the franchises are maintaining a positive outlook and won’t mind even a curtailed season.
The potential window for IPL is from September to November and with Cricket Australia saying the prospect of staging T20 World Cup this year is “unrealistic”, the chances of staging the event have become brighter. Still, a lot of complications will have to be dealt with including zeroing in on venue(s) and ensuring biosecure environment.
No Issues With Curtailed Season
Kings XI Punjab co-owner Ness Wadia says the venue will be decided based on availability of adequate infrastructure. “Considering the current situation, there are too many complications in hosting the T20 World Cup with 16 teams. Organising the IPL won’t be easy too. It has to be at a place which has adequate infrastructure, both on and off the field,” Wadia told PTI.
While Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) CEO Venky Mysore had recently said that he is against tinkering with the IPL format, Wadia has no such issues. “I am sure BCCI is putting all its efforts towards a full IPL but we have no issues even with a curtailed one. We have to be aware of the situation we are in and optimise ourselves,” he said.
No Issues With Shifting IPL Out of India
Wadia stressed on the importance of being flexible including the eventuality of organising the league outside of India. “IPL has also been a very forward looking and flexible tournament and that has to be maintained during the COVID situation. Going back to 2009, within one month we switched from India to South Africa,” he said.
UAE has already offered to host the event while Sri Lanka too has expressed its interest.
It’s a decision, Wadia said, that will be taken after mutual consent of the team owners.
“We would need adequate number of hotels in that place, so that we are able to quarantine players if needed. Whether in India or abroad, there has to be enough infrastructure,” he said.
Not Everyone on The Same Page
A unnamed top official of an IPL team wants BCCI to announce the dates as soon as possible and is also against a shortened tournament
“I don’t understand what the BCCI is waiting for. They should have announced the dates by now. Whether August-September or September-October (if the World Cup doesn’t happen). Talk to the UAE board and go ahead. They can even consider Bahrain and Muscat and expand the league’s presence further, ICC delaying the decision has left it in a dilemma and also the BCCI,” the official said.
With the cricket loving public starved of action, Wadia believes there will be a spike in IPL viewership and so attracting sponsors will not be a problem.
“If it is a shorter tournament then automatically it would depend on the number of games. If there are the usual 14 league games, you are getting an X value from a sponsor, it will change if there are lesser number of games,” he said.
“Having said that, a lot of sponsors might be happy to see the IPL happening even if it is shorter. It gives them a lot of publicity. In my humble opinion, the IPL might happen with a larger audience base purely based on the assessment that world has been through so much and the world needs that outlet,” he added.
He also dismissed the fear that due to the financial crisis triggered by coronavirus pandemic, sponsors will stay away. “…I don’t see any difficulty in attracting sponsors. Today there are too many variables but tomorrow if the IPL dates are announced, I don’t see why sponsors won’t come forward, given the viewership might increase,” said Wadia.
A source close to Chennai Super Kings said the COVID-19 though feels the financial crisis will have an impact.
“It will have an impact surely, how much? I am not too sure. In one way, TV will be a great advertisement for sponsors. Basically, it is a question of money available with them at that time. It is not the usual scenario,” he opined.
“Sponsors will come to the teams only after the IPL dates are announced,” he added.
Expanding Brand IPL
However, another team official reckons that that this could be an opportunity to to make IPL even a bigger brand.
“Individual sponsorship is hardly the main part of our revenues, the main revenue comes from the the BCCI’s central pool. Keeping that issue aside, this is the best opportunity for brand IPL. You have an IPL in September-October, then the auction in December-January and then IPL again in April-May. Eight months you will be talking IPL,” he said.
“The BCCI is not seeing that. India is not going to be safe before November, better to take the call now and do it elsewhere,” the official added.