Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) President Sourav Ganguly arrives at BCCI headquarters for the Indian Premier League (IPL) Governing Council meeting, in Mumbai on Saturday. (ANI Photo)
Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) President Sourav Ganguly arrives at BCCI headquarters for the Indian Premier League (IPL) Governing Council meeting, in Mumbai on Saturday. Image Credit: ANI

Dubai: Plans to save the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) were discussed at the governing council meeting in the presence of eight IPL franchise owners at the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Headquarters in Mumbai amid huge uncertainty over the event which is expected to commence from April 15. The officials expressed their helplessness due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak to the owners.

Kings XI Punjab’s co-owner Ness Wadia revealed the mood of uncertainty that was prevalent during the meeting, saying: “We cannot and no one, you know, is in a position today to say when it’s going to start. We will review the situation after two to three weeks. And hopefully by then the cases will reduce.”

Jay Shah, the secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) made an official statement by saying: “The BCCI along with all the IPL franchises have reiterated BCCI’s stand of putting safety and well-being of fans, athletes and employees as a priority. The board will continue to monitor and work closely with Government of India, state governments and other state regulatory bodies to decide on the future course of action in the best interest of public health. The BCCI and all its stakeholders are committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for everyone involved in our great sport and the nation.”

Hoping that in the event of coronavirus being contained, some plans were discussed such as staging a curtailed IPL with teams being divided into two groups of four and then top four going into the play-offs. Even increasing the double headers on weekdays was discussed wanting the league to conclude by May 24.

Discussions were also held on reducing the number of venues enabling the players to travel less in the light of shorter number of days of the event.

It was evident that the richest T20 league in the world will be less glamorous than the previous years in the light of the present situation. Even a plan to stage the league in another country was discussed but quickly turned down.

The BCCI isn’t sure whether they would gain permission from the government to stage the event from April 15. Even plans to stage the league with no spectators was also discussed.

BCCI president Sourav Ganguly said the IPL will have to be truncated if it goes ahead.

"If it happens, it has to be truncated because if it starts on April 15, then anyway 15 days are gone. How truncated, how many games, I can't tell at the moment," he told reporters after meeting officials from IPL franchises.

Wadia on behalf of all owners also said: “At the meeting everyone agreed that human beings come first and finance comes second. We are here to adhere to governments directives. I don’t see anything being decided before the end of the month. We have to wait and watch and hope situation improves.”

A few owners, speaking to reporters said that the meeting was mainly to tell us that BCCI is monitoring the situation and a decision can only be taken in due course.

Meanwhile, the BCCI also announced that all their domestic tournaments will be on hold including Irani Cup match between Rest of India and champions Saurashtra and women’s cricket matches. Kolkata Knight Riders co-owner and Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan tweeted after meeting: “Wonderful to meet all the Franchise owners ‘off the field’ so to say. The meeting by @Bcci and @ipl was to reiterate what all of us feel ... safety first of the spectators, players management & cities we play in. All directives of the health agencies & govt to be followed.” A little later he tweeted again, saying: “Hope the spread of the virus subsides & the show can go on.”