Looking at September end or early October start: IPL chairman
One of the fallouts of scheduling gone haywire because of Covid-19 is that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the International Cricket Council (ICC) are vying for the same window for their T20 tournaments.
ICC slotted World T20 from October 18 to November 15 way before the novel coronavirus stopped all sport. Forced to suspend the Indian Premier League (IPL) – said to be valued at Rs 4000 crore – BCCI wants to hold its competition around that time.
In an interview, IPL chairman Brijesh Patel said he wants ICC to act soon. Excerpts.
Q. Are you hopeful that the IPL will be staged this year? If yes, a full edition?
A. Yes, we are hopeful that we can host the IPL this year. In a best-case scenario we want the full edition, not a truncated one. It is, of course, subject to what the ICC decides on the T20 World Cup. But we are looking at September end-early October start for IPL. ICC should take a decision soon. Because if the World Cup is happening teams have to prepare for it. Players are all still in lockdown. After all, it is a World Cup that we are talking about.
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Q. If you manage to stage the IPL it will have to be without crowds. Are you saying, IPL can be hosted without crowds but not the World Cup?
A. Naturally, a World Cup requires fans. It makes no sense playing a World Cup without crowd.
Q. Is hosting IPL outside India an option if you find a window?
A. Let’s see how the situation with Covid-19 develops. Our first preference is India. We also have to see what the government guidelines are at that time. There is still some time. Both UAE and Sri Lankan boards have offered to host. But we would like it to be at home.
Q. At home, is the plan to host in limited venues such as Mumbai and Pune where there can be three or four stadiums available?
A. If we are playing without crowds, the location does not matter. We would perhaps require four stadiums. But you can’t plan that at the moment. For example, today, you can’t play in Mumbai.
Q. Flying in cricketers from around the world would be a challenge. Would you be okay having this season’s IPL with just Indian cricketers?
A. I think by then (September-October), international travel would have started. Preferably, we would want international cricketers participating. But it’s not that we can’t have it with only Indian players.
Q. Are all the stakeholders keen?
A. Yes. The broadcasters are very positive. The players want to play. They have been home for two-and-a-half months. Everyone wants IPL. But an early decision from ICC is very important. Players, franchises and the board can then start preparing.
Q. In an IPL governing council meet, you spoke about the utility of virtual advertising. Such strategies will have to employed, to generate revenue…
A. Yes, we have to look at areas which can increase our revenues. The way virtual advertising works is, a match may be in progress in Mumbai where the on-field LED (light emitting diode) will show the on-venue sponsors. But the same feed being relayed in UAE, or UK, can have their own local sponsorship. They will have a clean perimeter and sight screen. That is possible. The match is the same but the ads will be different. There is no point in showing a brand relevant to Indian market in another part of the globe. It’s a waste for the brand too. Today, one has to use a lot more of technology.