The Board of Control for Cricket in India has received the central government’s formal approval to conduct this year’s Indian Premier League in the UAE, IPL Chairman Brijesh Patel said on Monday, reported PTI.

The IPL will be held in the UAE from September 19 to November 10 in three cities – Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The tournament final is set to be held on a weekday for the first time.

The government had last week given an “in principle” go-ahead to the BCCI to shift the marquee league to the UAE due to the coronavirus situation in the country.

“Yes, we have received all the written approvals,” Patel told PTI when asked whether the permission has come in writing from both the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of External Affairs.

When an Indian sports body shifts a domestic tournament abroad, it requires clearance from Home, External and Sports ministries respectively, PTI report added.

“Once we had the verbal okay from the government, we had intimated the Emirates Cricket Board. Now we have the papers also, so franchises can be intimated that everything is in order,” a veteran BCCI official told PTI.

Most of the franchises will be flying out after August 20 after two mandatory RT-PCR (Covid-19 tests) conducted within 24 hours from their departure base. The players and support staff have been allowed to take their families along on the condition that all of them remain in the bio-secure bubble. However, PTI reported that players across teams are not too keen due to the strict quarantine protocols.

The Chennai Super Kings players and staff, who are leaving on August 22, will have a small camp at the Chepauk on the insistence of skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

The 53-day tournament will witness 10-afternoon matches starting at 1530 IST while the evening matches will start at 1930 IST.

Elsewhere, the BCCI is also facing problems on the sponsorship front after the suspension of the deal with Chinese mobile phone company Vivo for the current year due to outrage over the Ladakh stand-off.

It was a Rs 440 crore per year deal and as BCCI looks at potential sponsors, it emerged on Monday that Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali has shown interest in becoming the new title sponsor.

After earlier reports that the government clearance was provided, the BCCI had said after the IPL Governing Council’s meeting at the end July that approvals were still pending.

“Taking note of the prevailing Covid-19 situation in India, the IPL GC decided to stage the tournament in the United Arab Emirates and the matches will be played in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi subject to necessary clearances from the Government of India,” BCCI secretary Jay Shah had said.

The IPL GC decided that the tournament final will be played on November instead of the originally planned November 8 date. The Women’s T20 Challenge will also take place in the UAE and will comprise three teams with four matches to be played during the IPL Playoff week.

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It was also decided during the meeting that IPL will retain all sponsors of the event, including Chinese companies, but later that did not pan out, with Vivo reportedly backing out after massive backlash.

Patel, however, expressed confidence that a lot of companies are interested in becoming IPL sponsors.

“It is not a setback (Vivo pulling out), there is already a lot of interest (for title rights). Whether an Indian company or from anywhere else, whoever bids the most gets the rights. We will finalise the whole process by August 18,” Patel told PTI.

(With PTI inputs)