The Indian Premier League franchisees are yet to hear a word – formal or informal – from the Board of Control for Cricket in India on the status, possibilities and modalities of the league this year.
This has been confirmed to SportzFront by the Chief Executives of at least two IPL franchisees.
There has been a lot of speculation around the IPL 2020. There have been comments and opinions from present and past players – Indian and overseas both – and administrators from different national cricket boards. There has also been a formal communication between the BCCI and its affiliated State associations.
BCCI president Sourav Ganguly in a letter to the presidents and secretaries of the affiliated State units on June 10 had stated that “the BCCI is working on all possible options to ensure that we are able to stage the IPL this year, even if it means playing the tournament in empty stadiums. The fans, franchisees, players, broadcasters, sponsors and all other stakeholders are keenly looking forward to the possibility of IPL being hosted this year. Recently a lot of players, both from India and other countries, participating in IPL have also shown their keenness on being a part of this year IPL. We are optimistic and the BCCI will shortly decide on the future course of action on this.”
IPL’s key constituents and the biggest stakeholders remain clueless about the status of the richest professional cricket league. The two CEOs told SportzFront that for the past two months they have not heard a word on the IPL 2020 from the BCCI. “We are as clueless as you are. Everything else is mere speculation. Whatever we get to read in media reports doesn’t lead us anywhere,” said one CEO.
The franchisees also remain anxious about the COVID-19 situation in the country. They have accepted that an IPL in India this year will have to be behind closed doors with no fans allowed in the stadiums. They also don’t rule out the possibility of the league being staged in some other nation. Before those scenarios, the bigger concern remains on assembling the squads for training.
“Teams training in normal circumstances is our (franchisees’) lookout. BCCI or (IPL) Governing Council has no say or responsibility in that. But this is not a normal situation. There are no international flights. In some States even inter-district moment is restricted. Hospitality industry is shut. Unless we see a miraculous improvement in the coronavirus pandemic, we will look up to the BCCI to set up at least operating procedures on how we assemble and train the players. There are so many questions and no answers,” said the other CEOs.
Franchisees also remain worried about their balance sheets. The revenues will fall and expenses may increase. “Every team will have to rework its business plans. Unless there is a clarity on the schedule and our own talent, what do we offer to potential sponsors,” asks one of them and adds that “even if that clarity comes in the next few days, sponsorship revenues will take a hit. That is also feared to happen with the IPL central pool.”
The league originally scheduled from March 29 had been postponed several times and then suspended indefinitely in wake of the lockdown imposed to mitigate the impact of novel coronavirus. Ever since, there has been all sort of speculation about the T20 World Cup 2020 in Australia and the IPL 2020 in India. As uncertainty looms large on the World Cup this year, the BCCI is aiming to squeeze in the cash rich league into that window.