IPL seeks time, UAE emerges frontrunner
Looking to squeeze in as many matches as possible at home, the Indian Premier League officials are working overtime to come up with a schedule which will get the Home Ministry's approval. In the process, they have sought more time to firm up their plan.
The dates for the General Election have brightened chances of staging the latter half of the tournament in India.
While a definitive announcement of dates and venue was expected on Friday, it is learnt that the IPL top brass has further requested the home ministry to allocate security forces for staging matches in India soon after the last day of polling and not wait till the counting of votes.
The BCCI has produced a provisional schedule with matches starting as early as in the first week of May in those states where elections are expected to be over by then.
There are chances that a few more venues will be added to the existing ones in India. And more matches could be played in Raipur, Ahmedabad and Ranchi.
"We have sent a request to the Home Ministry with proposed matches in those states where elections would be over in the first week of May. We are waiting for a reply from the ministry in a couple of days. Only then we will be able to announce the schedule and the venue of the IPL, whether it is South Africa, the UAE or Bangladesh," a key BCCI official told HT.
Depending on what the BCCI decides, the IPL governing council will then take the final call on the foreign destination.
There seems to be a growing preference for the UAE as the prospective foreign venue with some of the franchises openly backing the Gulf centres.
Banking on the strong sub-continental population in the region, the franchises are rallying around Dubai as it is likely to fetch decent ticket revenues.
It will also be cost-effective compared to South Africa. With BCCI having decided to bring the second leg of the tournament to India, travel will be the main factor.
The franchisees want the venue to be closer home. For them UAE suits perfectly. The UAE sector also offers the option of cheaper flight tickets.
Not all franchises are convinced though. They have apprehensions for two reasons. On top is the image of the league, which has taken a beating after last year's betting and spot-fixing scandal. The BCCI has kept away from playing in the Gulf after the 2000-fixing scandal. The IPL organisers will have to come up with massive security measures to avoid another dent in its already tarnished image.
South Africa was the original favourite, but the South Africa board will not be too keen to host just a few matches. They would have preferred to host the whole event.