In a fresh controversy to hit the Indian Premier League, its governing council on Saturday shifted the league final on June 1 final from the Wankhede Stadium to Bangalore’s Chinnaswamy Stadium, leaving the Mumbai Cricket Association fuming at the unilateral decision.
The MCA reacted sharply. “We can’t take it lying down. We will raise our objections. We have asked them to furnish the reason for shifting,” a top MCA office-bearer said soon after holding an impromptu meeting to discuss its next course of action.
Although it did not honour an understanding that defending champions will get to host the final — Mumbai Indians won last year — the GC defended its move. It met here on Saturday with its interim head Sunil Gavaskar joining in via teleconference from Mussoorie.
“There is nothing hard and fast, the BCCI in its discretion can decide which venue is suitable to host the final,” said a top IPL official.
Another GC member justified the move. “There are several factors which went against MCA. First, the security cost to the Mumbai Police was to the tune of `50 lakh for the final whereas Bangalore is much cheaper, at `20 lakh. Also, hospitality in the Wankhede was an issue. We have planned to invite some guests from outside and felt the hospitality facilities at the Chinaswamy stadium are much better.”
It is learnt that since Mumbai has a curfew on bursting firecrackers after 10 pm, it was felt it could prove to be a show spoiler.
However, shifting the final was triggered by an incident on May 3 when IPL governing council members, including its interim chief, Sunil Gavaskar, were not allowed inside the MCA premises to attend a GC meeting. The Wankhede, which also houses the BCCI headquarters, was fortified by the police as Mumbai Indians were playing against Kings XI Punjab that day. After several calls and arguments with security officials, they were finally let in. “There is always an issue here. Every time on match day we can’t enter our own premises. This is happening way too often. This is not the only reason why the final was moved out, but it is one of the reasons,” said the GC member.
An MCA vice-president termed it as trivial. “If this is the reason, then it’s absolutely silly, and it is sad the way the match was moved out. I personally feel there is larger board politics at play to show MCA in a poor light.”
The governing council also moved two matches from Chennai to Ranchi after the Tamil Nadu association informed that the MA Chidambaram stadium would not be available to host the matches scheduled on May 18 and 22.