By Baidurjo Bhose
New Delhi, March 14 (IANS) The BCCI, the IPL franchises and host broadcasters Star are the three pillars that make the Indian Premier League (IPL) the success it is. And while the coronavirus outbreak saw BCCI postpone the start of the IPL 2020 till April 15, the question on the mind of the franchises is what is Stars view in the whole turn of affairs.
Star India Chairman Uday Shankar met BCCI President Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah on Friday and the franchises are waiting to hear from the BCCI what transpired between the two stakeholders when they sit down with the board officials in Mumbai on Saturday.
Speaking to IANS, sources in the know of developments said that it was a clear case of all parties joining hands and getting to a common ground in a situation like this. The source explained that the IPL could now either see more double headers — a move initially opposed by Star — or an extension of the league — a move being strongly opposed by the eight franchises — or a third plan could be to divide the teams into two groups.
“The current scenario actually needs joint decision across the board rather than making individual calls. While an option could be to have more double headers, a move Star were initially against citing low TRP. Their point of view did have logic, but as things stand, we all have to realise that the current situation isn’t under anybody’s control and exceptions need to be made.
“Another option is extending the tournament beyond May 31, but that then brings us to the point where teams will not have foreign players at their disposal as they will have to leave for their international commitments. We must keep the interest of the foreign boards also in mind.
“There is a third option where you break the 8 teams into two groups and then play the tournament out, but that again dilutes the competition slightly because the IPL has always been about the best facing each other and then making it to the playoffs. Tough times call for tough measures, so let’s see how things go,” the source said.
An official of one of the franchises said that it would be interesting to hear what Star’s point of view is because they haven’t heard the host broadcaster’s side yet.
“We (IPL owners) are all meeting today around noon before we go ahead and meet the BCCI officials later in the day. But yes, all eyes are definitely on Star and what calls they have made in the last couple of days. The host broadcasters would have definitely informed the BCCI officials of their position when they met yesterday. Let’s wait to hear that bit out as we are all on the same boat when it comes to safety of the players and conduct of the league,” the official told IANS.
As per the initial itinerary, six double headers had been planned with all of them on Sundays. The last season had seen double headers being played out on Saturday as well as Sunday. But this year, the schedule had no double headers on Saturday. This also saw the league stage being extended to 50 days as compared to 44 days in season 12.
But things have taken a turn with the government on Wednesday cancelling all visas, except for a few official categories, till April 15 in the wake of the growing coronavirus scare.
In the meeting held at Nirman Bhavan in the national capital, it was decided that all existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/international organisations, employment and project visas, stand suspended till April 15 as the coronavirus outbreak has already seen over 60 positive cases in India.
The Sports Ministry also followed this up by making it clear that all sporting events should be cancelled in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. And if it is unavoidable, the events should be held behind closed doors so as to avoid mass gatherings.