Coronavirus outbreak: Lesser IPL games will hurt more

Updated: Mar 15, 2020, 08:38 IST | Harit N Joshi | Mumbai

BCCI chief Sourav Ganguly says glamorous T20 extravaganza must have 60 games as Coronavirus outbreak continues to be a headache to team owners and Board

BCCI prez Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah at the Board's headquarters in the city on Saturday. Pic /PTI
BCCI prez Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah at the Board's headquarters in the city on Saturday. Pic /PTI

A day after "suspending" the Indian Premier League till April 15 in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly and his team got into a huddle to device a plan that will help them organise 60 IPL games.

Although the BCCI on Saturday reiterated that "safety and well-being of fans, athletes and employees" is their top priority, the other aspect which is important to them is retaining the commercial value for all IPL stakeholders.

Ganguly made it clear that IPL-13, which was scheduled to begin from March 29, could be truncated. "If it is April 15, then in any case 15 days are gone. It has to be truncated. How truncated? How many games? I can't say at the moment. [Anyway] till April 15 [there are] no visas," Ganguly told reporters after a busy day at the Cricket Centre where a meeting with eight franchises was conducted earlier in the day followed by the IPL Governing Council meeting.

While the BCCI will assess the situation every week, there could be another meeting with team owners in the coming weeks.

Ganguly refused to set any deadline to decide on the fate of the IPL. "I can't say at the moment and it has to be worked around. As much as we want to host the IPL, we also need to be careful about the security [safety of everyone]," said the BCCI boss. A truncated IPL could mean more double-headers. "Reducing the length of the tournament makes no sense for any of the stakeholders. Unless they play 60 games, only then they can maximise their commercial gains. There are several ways that can be worked out to ensure 60 games are played. It is a matter of accommodating 15 to 20 initial matches that we are losing out," a BCCI source, who was privy to the IPL GC discussions, told mid-day.

Eight options were provided to the franchises, a BCCI source said. "Sixty games will be possible only under two scenarios if it starts by April 15. Otherwise, in a curtailed situation, the BCCI has proposed around 44 matches. A minimum of 32 matches were also proposed in a worst-case scenario," said a source.

Options discussed

Several options were discussed with the team owners and the IPL GC members—having more double-headers; playing at four to five prominent venues to save on travel time; divide eight teams in two groups of four each with top four qualifying for the semi-finals.

However, the IPL franchises are not in favour of the reduction of matches. Playing both matches at 8pm was also discussed to beef up viewership which is otherwise not possible in a 4pm match, but this option was promptly discarded. "So, double header games will be played at 4 and 8pm. There is no change in this," said a franchise official.

Another franchise official said BCCI presented several tentative dates to conduct the IPL considering the situation normalises by April 15 and they get a green signal from the government.

"One option is to start on April 15 and end by May 30 or so. The other is to start on May 1 and finish by May 30. Another option is to begin on May 1 and end by June 5 or 10. It all depends on how things pan out in the coming weeks," a franchise official told mid-day.

Kings XI Punjab's co-owner Ness Wadia said stakeholders are not thinking of monetary gains given the situation they are in.

'Not interested in money'

"The meeting was to discuss the possible scenarios. Number one, most importantly, I think, everyone in India and the world must understand that the BCCI nor the IPL, nor Star is here to gain monetary benefit by having the IPL. All stakeholders, especially the BCCI and the owners and staff feel that it is incorrect for us to even think about one rupee. So we are not interested in money," he said.

Everyone will have their fingers crossed till April 15.

But if the pandemic worsens, chances of having an IPL look bleak, according to a BCCI official.

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