NEW DELHI: India’s cricket board has devised a plan to keep afloat bleeding IPL franchises that are struggling to break even despite nine seasons of the glitzy cricket tournament generating millions of viewers and transforming the shortest format of the game.
The BCCI has amended its by-laws and is likely to allow Indian Premier League teams to travel abroad and play exhibition matches in an attempt to recover costs.
Earlier, all domestic teams or state associations needed permission from the powerful BCCI working committee to travel abroad or for inviting any foreign teams.
But with a tight schedule for Team India this year, it is unlikely that any IPL franchises will get a chance to travel abroad.
Most teams that have been part of the IPL since its inaugural edition in 2008 are in the red.
Three — Mumbai Indians, Delhi Daredevils and Kings XI Punjab — have taken advances against their television rights revenue for 2016 to maintain finances.
But now, IPL teams can try to recover losses through ticket proceeds in untapped cricket viewership territories such as Europe, where large populations of Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi migrants live.
Also, there have been reports that Royal Challengers Bangalore, Rising Pune Supergiants and Mumbai Indians want to hold exhibition matches in the United States.
Last year, two private leagues were successful in US and the Gulf. Cricket All Stars League, launched by legends Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne, played three matches in front of big crowds at New York, Houston, and Los Angeles.
Masters Champions League, a private Twenty20 tournament for retired cricketers drew good crowds in Dubai. This will also help shore up team revenues that are likely to take a hit once their share in television revenues plummet from 2018, when the current BCCI contract with the franchises runs out.
Sony Entertainment Television had bought the broadcasting rights for a total of $1.026 billion for ten years. Teams got 80% of the revenue the BCCI got 20%. This was made into a 60-40 arrangement in 2013 and is set to come down further in 2018.