The Indian Premier League, the world’s richest cricket tournament, will be held in the United Arab Emirates from September if India’s government gives approval, the league’s chairman confirmed on Tuesday according to ESPNCricinfo.
The postponement of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup because of the coronavirus has opened the way for the suspended IPL to go ahead after multiple delays as the pandemic spread this year.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India now wants to hold the tournament, which draws top cricket stars from around the world, from September until early November.
“It will be held in the UAE but first the board will seek permission from the Indian government to stage it there,” IPL chairman Brijesh Patel had told news agency AFP earlier.
He added that the exact dates would be decided by the IPL’s governing council in a meeting next week. “But we are looking at September-October and a bit of November for the event to take place.”
Media reports have said the IPL would run from September 26 to November 7. Patel would not say whether the games would be played behind closed doors. A final decision on that would rest with the UAE and Indian authorities.
According to the report in ESPNCricinfo, Patel said that Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah would be the three main venues. The report added: “The main reason for marking November 7 as the date for the IPL final was to ensure Indian players get enough time to travel to Australia for the four-match Test series, set to begin in December.”
The IPL is the BCCI’s main revenue earner. It has said it would lose more than $500 million if this year’s tournament had not gone ahead. The cash-rich event, which normally plays to packed stadiums across the country of 1.3 billion people, is estimated to generate more than $11 billion for the Indian economy.
“The IPL GC will meet within a week or 10 days and all decisions (including final schedule) will be taken there. As of now, the plan is to have a full-fledged IPL comprising 60 games and most likely in the UAE,” Patel was quoted as saying by PTI.
Asked about the main challenges in conducting the event in current scenario, Patel added: “Just the operational side of it. Whether you do it here or outside, it doesn’t matter (with no crowds).”
The BCCI had to wait until the International Cricket Council formally postponed the World Cup on Monday before announcing its new plan. The IPL has been held outside India twice before, in years that it clashed with national elections. South Africa hosted the 2009 event and part of it was held in the UAE in 2014.
The 13th IPL should have started on March 29 but it has been repeatedly postponed because of a nationwide lockdown enforced over the coronavirus.
A host of international stars including England’s Ben Stokes and Australia’s Steve Smith and David Warner are signed up for the eight teams. Australia’s Pat Cummins will be the most expensive overseas star this year. Kolkata Knight Riders agreeing a $2.17 million fee for him in a December auction.
(With inputs from AFP)