CORONOVIRUS LOOMS HEAVY ON THE CASH-RICH IPL

The world has come to a standstill due to the coronavirus threat all over it. On 15th March BCCI decided that the cash-rich IPL will be suspended till 15th April due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) that has now been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).  

Jay Shah the board secretary of the BCCI in a statement released to the media said that BCCI is concerned about its stakeholders and in general the public health of everyone. They are taking necessary steps to ensure that everyone related to IPL including the fans should have a safe cricketing experience.  

CRORES AT STAKE 

As the coronavirus spread from China to other parts of the world, threat loomed large over sporting events and large gatherings as the virus could spread easily at such large gatherings. In Europe, it was decided that the UEFA league would go on but with closed stadium doors without any spectators. After a week when the virus had spread more and claimed a huge number of lives authorities decided it would be best to suspend the UEFA league altogether.  

In India though, Sourav Ganguly said in a statement on March 6th that IPL would, however, will start on its designated date but with necessary precautions for the players and spectators. Rescheduling or canceling the tournament could lead to a massive hit for the advertising revenues even though all the matches are insured. 

The reason why it is difficult to reschedule the cash-rich league or cancel it is that the Star India Network has spent Rs 16,348 crores to acquire the advertising rights for the next five years. If the league gets canceled his year Star network will take a massive blow in terms of advertising revenues.  

The tinkering with the IPL schedule could lead to clashing with the Indian national team’s playing calendar. BCCI did not have any problems with going further with playing the matches as the foreign players also hadn’t expressed any concern over the schedule of the IPL amid the virus outbreak.  

CONCERN OF THE FRANCHISES 

On 13th March news came in that BCCI had decided to suspend the IPL till 15th April as the virus outbreak had claimed many lives and was rapidly spreading with 103 cases already registered in India. BCCI stated that it will work closely with the Indian government and with the Ministry of Youth affairs and sports and other central and state governments in regard to the outbreak. 

The franchises are however concerned over the possibility of commencing the games two weeks later. The Delhi and Maharashtra governments have voiced apprehensions at the sporting bodies. A sketch of the renewed schedule is yet to be shared with the media. there is a possibility that the traditional home-away format may not be done if venues are limited. 

EXPLORING OTHER POSSIBILITIES 

On 18th March reports came in that BCCI is planning to completely shelve the plan of IPL in the March to May window. The cricket board is considering postponing it by a couple of months and to have a full 60 match tournament in the July September window the coronavirus threat will also have subsided by then. 

If required, the IPL games could also be staged partially in India and partially on international grounds. The second edition of IPL held in 2009 had a duration of just 37 days, so if a window is available the tournament can take place. 

During the proposed July-September window not much international cricket is to be played. Asia Cup and ICC T20 World Cup are the two major tournaments to be played during that time. Asia Cup is to take place in September for which dates have not been confirmed yet. The ICC T20 World Cup will commence from the third week of October. 

Everyone associated with the IPL, that is the BCCI, the broadcasters, the franchises, the players and most importantly the stakeholders will be hoping and aiming for a full-fledged IPL to take place. The July-September window is the ideal window for this while the world is fighting and tackling the Corona Virus (COVID-19) threat in every way possible.

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