IPL 2020: Franchises have many questions, few answers

The last time UAE hosted the IPL was in 2014 due to the general elections in India

MUMBAI: If the Indian Premier League (IPL) is indeed heading to the UAE, as revealed by officials in the BCCI, and if the schedule – September 19 to November 8 – is not set for another change, it is high time the BCCI starts sharing what it has in mind for this year’s edition with the franchises at the earliest.
Franchises still haven’t ‘officially’ heard from the BCCI on the matter and there is concern among them.
TOI spoke to team owners and officials to find out what are their worries.
IPL GC & franchises meeting: When is the IPL governing council meeting and how soon does the BCCI intend to call a meeting of all franchises? Because until everybody is on the same page, nothing is going to move. And for that, effective communication is critical. Franchises say it’s already too late.
Official confirmation of dates, venue and match-schedule: Teams and their owners are in the middle of re-negotiations with sponsors. Most sponsors had been brought on board in February this year with IPL first slated to begin in March. However, with this year’s edition becoming a television-only event, to be played in October-November, outside of India, renegotiation of sponsorship deals are waiting to happen. Franchises say sponsors need to be informed in detail and numbers need to be reworked. Television exposure, prime-time consumption and screen-time available for brands will alone demonstrate value and for that, franchises need to understand the scenario better.
Revenue-sharing, ticket compensation & accommodation: With all 60 matches taking place in what is probably one of the biggest IPL windows (51 days), team owners expect revenue distribution from the central pool, including revenue from broadcast rights, to remain the same and not change. Further, each franchise is expected to lose anywhere between Rs 2.5 to 3.5 cr per IPL match from gate revenue (approx. Rs 20-25 cr for the season). Will BCCI compensate? Further, accommodation in India during IPL comes cheap because of bulk booking. UAE, however, will turn out to be relatively costlier, bringing in additional expense. To put things in perspective: IPL will book close to 60,000 room nights in the UAE. Do the math on what’s at stake revenue-wise.
Player-related details: Flying players to UAE & back, family (of players) travel, travel of overseas players to UAE & back, replacement in case of non-availability of players, replacement of players due to medical reasons, players being loaned during the tournament, general policy terms related to isolation upon reaching UAE, day-to-day routines to be followed are some of the points about which the franchises are looking to hear about from the board. While teams understand that flying the players to UAE and back will be their responsibility, that can effectively happen only once the BCCI is clear on what policies it wants to lay down.
Bio-secure bubble: The most important point is the safety of all involved, primarily the cricketers. What kind of policy is the BCCI putting in place to ensure safety. Franchises are in the middle of putting their own plans in place and are already sending their staff into quarantine, getting their own medical staff ready, sharing notes with other team managements, educating players on a regular basis and doing their own homework on processes like sanitisation, awareness, what to do and not do. Franchises say there is zero margin for error here and one mistake can take a toll on the whole league.
‘Anti-graft ops will be easier at UAE’
Taking the IPL to the UAE would be quite a task logistically for the tournament organisers but for BCCI Anti-Corruption Unit head Ajit Singh, the move will make monitoring the event “slightly easier” as it would be restricted to just three venues. “In the UAE, it will be slightly easier doing (monitoring ACU activity) as there are only three grounds compared to eight venues in India. That’s not an issue at all. Once the schedule comes, we will decide the workforce,” Singh said.

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