Slam-bang cricket is here but the fans in the north and eastern parts of the country are likely to miss high-octane clashes. Even some of the nine IPL franchises are complaining about Mumbai and Chennai getting the bulk of big-ticket action.
Given that Mumbai and Chennai, the home base of BCCI president N Srinivasan, have hosted all opening matches, finals, and even play-offs in the last two seasons, they have a reason to be upset. "How else could you see this except as a clear bias towards these two cities? There are no hard-and-fast rules regarding the allotment, yet these cities keep getting all high-profile matches," said an official of one of the teams, pleading anonymity.
In the last season, the final was played in Chennai, which along with Mumbai also hosted the play-offs.
An IPL governing council member, however, defended the choice of venues. "We prefer to allot opening ceremonies, opening matches and the finals to the winners of the previous season."
A franchisee pointed to the play-offs. On the face of it, the allotment does appear a bit arbitrary.
The only consideration, informed a source, in allotting the play-offs is which ground can generate the maximum revenue. "Since the proceeds from the play-offs go to the board, they are held where they can be monetised the most."
Incidentally, Srinivasan announced on March 3 that the proceeds from the play-offs would go to select 185 players as a one-time benefit.
The franchisee, however, had a different take. "It can't be the sole criterion. If it were, how did Pune Warriors get a play-off this season? They were ordinary last season, and any other franchise will draw in as much revenue as Pune. They've been given the match just to keep them in good humour after they almost left the league."