Team Owners Open to Shifting IPL Outside India
New Delhi: The mood among IPL team owners and their top managers is changing rapidly with many of them willing to support shifting the T20 league overseas for the 2017 season in the wake of the many PILs being filed against the functioning of the league in recent weeks.
“It looks like everyone wants to take off on IPL, find issues around the league. These things impact business,” said the CEO of one of the franchises. “What has the IPL to do with water issues in different states? It’s the state government’s responsibility to provide water,” he pointed out. Another team owner said it will be sad if the league is moved overseas since it will mean depriving fans of the teams from games in their home cities. “It is like twisting the IPL to generate PILs,” he said. None of the team owners and CEOs ET spoke to wanted to come on record as there has been no formal announcement by the IPL management or the Indian cricket board.
These reactions have been necessitated by a few events that have taken place recently. Earlier this month, the Bombay High Court asked the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to move all IPL matches planned in Maharashtra after April 30 out of the state while hearing a PIL by NGO Loksatta Movement.
The IPL had said that 60,000 litres of water was being used per day to maintain the ground and pitch at the three stadiums in Maharashtra — in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur — at a time when many parts of the state are facing drought conditions.
After IPL decided to move the matches to Jaipur and Visakhapatnam, another PIL was filed in Rajasthan. The Rajasthan High Court then questioned the rationale behind shifting IPL matches to Jaipur which itself was facing water shortage.
Last week, BCCI secretary and BJP MP Anurag Thakur said BCCI has become a punching bag of sorts and the recent rise in public interest litigations again the IPL is leading to losses.
He said the IPL governing council will soon meet to decide on the venue for IPL’s next season. “The IPL governing council will be looking at the venues in India and abroad. We have to check the availability of the venues and prevailing conditions,” he said. IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla said that the IPL has emerged as a global sporting brand that some people are trying to destroy and this is evident from the new controversies every year around the tournament.
“It is difficult to build a brand, but easy to destroy it. If these kind of things continue to happen, we might have to shift the IPL out of the country,” Shukla said.
He pointed out that no one questioned the use of water when several T20 World Cup matches were held in Maharashtra in March. The CEO of another IPL team said the decision to move the IPL overseas, like it was done in the second edition and in 2014, will have to be taken considering how viable it will be for the teams.
“Teams will lose out on ticketing revenues and home crowd support,” he said.
“And possibly even sponsorship support as many sponsors back a city team because they want a local connect with that particular city or state.”
The government, he said, needs to be friendlier to IPL teams as the league also contributes significantly to revenues of the state.