IPL likely to adopt 74-match format from 2022 on expansion to 10 teams
The Indian Premier League (IPL) is due to revert to a 74-match model from next year, after it becomes a 10-team league. This was revealed in an internal presentation at the BCCI headquarters last week. Tenders inviting the two teams will be floated next month and the process completed by October.
The 14 additional matches per year will fetch BCCI, at current media and sponsorship rights rates, more than Rs. 800 crore. These returns will go up further from 2023 onwards if the new media rights deal sees an upswing on expected lines. The two new teams alone will bring in, as per conservative market estimates, around Rs. 2000 crore each.
A mechanism to justify these numbers by providing the new entrants a level playing field while retaining IPL’s competitive edge is being explored by IPL. BCCI failed to do that in 2010 when Pune Warriors and Kochi Tuskers, both defunct, were added.
74 Games, 2 Groups
The 74-match format means the teams divided into two groups of five continue to play 14 league games each. Each Group A team would play four home-and-away games in the group, one home-and-away contest with a Group B team and four matches with the other teams in that group—home or away based on a random draw. This formula had its critics when it was tried in 2011.
“We are not ready for 94 matches yet,” a BCCI official said. “Our broadcasters are not ready. There are issues around overseas player availability and finding a suitable window. We will consider a bigger window in future years.”
A 94-match IPL (all 10 teams facing each other home-and-away plus playoffs) would require more than two-and-a-half months, a luxury in today’s cramped calendar with ICC having its own world event every year. An official of Star India, the current IPL broadcaster, had recently warned of “fans dropping off as the tournament becomes longer and predictable”.
Player Retention Formula
The retention formula will dictate as to how much of a new look the existing teams will have and whether the new teams will have enough quality players to choose from when the mega auction takes place in December. The plan currently is to allow each team to retain four players—2 Indian and foreign each or 3 Indian and 1 foreign.
“What this would mean is the cream of Indian cricket will be retained by the existing teams. Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli are not going away anywhere,” said a franchise executive. “Perhaps teams like KKR and RR who rely heavily on their overseas match winners may have to release key players.”
The likes of Kolkata-based RP Goenka Group, with previous IPL experience (Rising Pune Supergiant) and the Ahmedabad-based Adani Group, which lost out in the 2010 expansion race, are among those known to be interested. They would weigh up issues such as squad strength potential and returns on investment before taking the plunge.