The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) might be divided when it comes to deciding on the venue of the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, but the franchises are clear that they want it to be held in India. This after IPL Chairman Brijesh Patel said that hosting the league outside could be a solution if the situation doesnt improve in India.
Speaking to IANS, an official of an IPL side said that it was important that the tournament is held in India, not just for the franchises but also for the millions of cricket lovers in the country.
“Leave alone the logistics for a minute. Just think of the message you give out when you take the IPL out of the country. So, is the situation not good enough to have the tournament in India? That means life isn’t getting back to normalcy. At this point in time, having the IPL in India will be like just the hope that people in the country need. Cricket is a religion here and you cannot ignore the positive impact an IPL in India will have on the minds which have been dealt some sad blows in these tough times.
“Now, coming to the logistical part. It will be a nightmare. In India, we will need just foreign players that come into the country to quarantine before they can join the group. But if we are going outside, that would mean ensuring that every team would need a group of approximately 25-30 people going into quarantine. Doesn’t make much sense in a scenario wherein we are anyway looking majorly at revenue from broadcasters and not from gate money,” the official said.
Echoing similar sentiments, another official said that while requests have come in from other boards to act as hosts, the franchises have not for once brought forward the idea of moving outside India.
“When the tournament was moved to South Africa in 2009, the effect (financial) was felt for almost a year after the event. Not to forget the confusions between franchises and BCCI as to who would bear what cost. The UAE part in 2014 was much better because only a part of the IPL was taken outside. But considering the current scenario, you cannot take half of the IPL outside. So, that scenario doesn’t work.
“Also, you have to realise that the franchises or BCCI didn’t propose that the IPL be taken away to a foreign land. It is the foreign boards who have sent in the invitation. As franchises, we would definitely want the Indian Premier League to be held in India because its identity is connected to this country,” the official pointed.
Another franchise official said that while revenue from sponsors will anyway take a hit this year, it will be worse if the tournament goes outside India. “See, you will anyway do away with the meet and greet sessions and the off the field activities that come your way this year. The sponsor engagement is a big part of the IPL. So, that is already off the list and even if you do, they will be extremely controlled.
“To now have an IPL outside, why would a company which doesn’t have any business in the UAE or Sri Lanka, want their brand promotion there? The brand value takes a hit even though the games will be broadcast on television. The effect is already there considering the economic condition post the pandemic and to take the tournament outside will make it worse,” the official pointed.
An official of a fourth franchise pointed that the lack of connection with crowds outside India would also hit the franchises when it comes to the fan base side of things. “See, while we do understand that crowds might not be allowed to come inside stadiums, do you realise there could be a virtual reality aspect from BCCI’s end to bring in the fan aspect like the Bundesliga has done? Would that be possible if we are having the IPL outside in front of foreign crowds? Don’t think so.
“There are a lot of sentiments that come with playing in India which the fans cannot be deprived of. Imagine the IPL being the one kicking off sporting activities in the country which has clearly seen tough times due to the coronavirus pandemic. These are sentiments which can brighten up a lot of faces and create a positive impact,” the official said.
Summing it up, an official of a fifth franchise said: “Destination wedding works when your friends and family travels with you to celebrate the moment. Not without them.”