IPL 2020: How the UAE will save BCCI millions of dollars

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Shared News: July 28, 2020 7:53:49 am
CB Skipper Virat Kohli with team mates acknowledges the crowd after team’s victory during the Indian Premier League 2019 (IPL T20) cricket match between Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) at Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru. (PTI Photo/File)
The T20 World Cup postponement has opened a window for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to organise this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL). Subject to approvals, the tournament will be played in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where, unlike India, the Covid curve has flattened considerably. And there’s an outside chance that some crowd might be allowed at the venues.

When will the IPL take place?

The BCCI has written to the Indian government, seeking permission to organise the IPL in the UAE. Subject to the government’s approval, the Board will announce the dates for the tournament. An IPL Governing Council meeting will be convened soon to formally announce the tournament schedule and the standard operating procedure (SOP) for all the stakeholders. The postponement of the T20 World Cup has created a window for the T20 league from mid-September to early November. As a chief executive of an IPL franchise informed, the BCCI has verbally communicated to the IPL teams that the tournament will be played from September 19 to November 8. Meanwhile, the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) has confirmed that it has received the official Letter of Intent from the BCCI to host the 2020 edition of the IPL.

There might be a cap on the number of spectators.

BCCI officials say that the local administration is mulling on allowing some crowd at the venue—50 per cent of the stadium capacity. They say that by the time the IPL starts, the situation would be even better in the UAE. Data put out by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that UAE has 58,562 confirmed coronavirus cases from January 29 to July 26, with 343 deaths. At 51,628, the recovery rate is also pretty high in the Emirates. By September, local sports events are expected to begin in Dubai. Also, Dubai will host the European Tour golf finale before the IPL. So there’s an outside chance that some spectators might be allowed at the venues for the IPL matches.

Then again, as a member of the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) informed, the ECB is doing a recce of the three venues in the UAE—Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah—and surveying the entry and exit points. If even 20-30 per cent of spectators are allowed, every venue needs to have sanitisation tunnels and all other necessary measures as per safety protocols.

Can fans travel to watch the matches?

Yes, they can if they test negative for Covid-19. If the matches are held in Dubai for example, travelling fans have to either get a PCR test done within 96 hours before embarking or take one after reaching there. Only those tested positive will be quarantined for 14 days. A Dubai Sports Council official, however, said that if overseas fans are allowed, they will have to undergo a quarantine period. Also, UAE is the only country in Middle East where international flights are regularly operating.

Will the franchises suffer loss if matches are held behind closed doors?

They will lose out on income through gate receipts. Gate receipts vary for different franchises. Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), for example, enjoy high gate receipts with a 67,000-seater Eden Gardens as their home venue and very high turnouts. Franchises that have smaller stadiums as their home venues don’t earn high gate receipts. Usually, gate revenue is around Rs 250 crore, eight franchises combined. According to an official, each IPL franchise is going to lose at least Rs 15-20 crore if the tournament is played behind closed doors.

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