Dubai: The 13th edition of Indian Premier League (IPL), scheduled to start from March 29, may run into a bit of rough weather due to the Coronavirus scare which has made inroads in India with over 40 cases being reported across the country.
Despite the President of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Sourav Ganguly, assuring that the T20 franchise league is on schedule a few days back, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope raised the threat in Mumbai on Monday and said that discussions are on in the state government on whether to postpone the IPL due to the growing number of cases.
“There is always a danger of spread (of contagious diseases) when people gather in large numbers. Such events can always be organised later. So discussion is on whether to postpone the IPL,” Tope told reporters.
Sources in the BCCI say that since staging as popular an event like the IPL without spectators is not an option, they are monitoring the situation and will follow the protocol from the Ministry of Health to ensure the health and safety of the spectators at the ground. “BCCI will put additional medical team at the stadiums while the spectators will be screened at the stadiums,” a senior BCCI official told Gulf News.
The near-pandemic situation arising globally over the spread of the Coronavirus has seen a whole rash of major sporting events being cancelled, while a few such as Serie A and Champions League football, plus the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix later this month are being held in empty stadiums. However, given the scale of the IPL and the fan following it enjoys through the country over nearly two months, the BCCI is in no position to mull playing it without the spectators - the livewire of the league.
The build-up to the league has also struck a discordant note among the eight franchises with the announcement of BCCI implementing strict cost-cutting measures - with the notable decision being IPL champions’ prize money to be halved as compared to 2019.
In a circular sent to all IPL franchises, the BCCI has notified that instead of a whopping Rs 200 million, the IPL champions will now receive Rs 10m million only.
“The financial rewards have been reworked as a part of the cost cutting measures. The champions will get Rs 10 crore instead of Rs 20 crore. The runners-up will get Rs 6.25 crore from earlier Rs 12.5 crore,” a BCCI notification read. The two losing qualifiers will now get Rs 4.37 crore each.
“The franchises, thanks to the new agreements drawn with the IPL from 2018, now enjoy a greater share of the profits while they can rope in sponsorships during the season. The BCCI decision will not please them but it’s been decided that the money saved from there will be spent towards developing the domestic cricket infra-structure in the country along with the National Cricket Academy (NCA),” he said.
The IPL 2020 will commence from March 29, the defending champions Mumbai Indians taking on Chennai Super Kings at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.