The new coronavirus (or Covid-19) is a ravaging pandemic affecting over 170 countries of the world. Covid-19 has landed the world economy in a lockdown, which has now affected the economy of many nations as well. Aside from the economy, most Inter-Country travels and Inter-State travels in some countries have been banned following the Covid-19. In the world of sports, some popular sporting events around the globe have been suspended – UEFA Champions League, NBA, etc.
In this backdrop, the Board of Control for Cricket in India took a proactive step in suspending the IPL. The Indian Premier League (IPL) is one of the biggest national cricket leagues in the world, with millions of viewership. The IPL was initially slated to hold between March 29 and May 24, but has now been suspended and shifted to start April 15.
With the outbreak of Covid-19 seriously affecting the IPL, fans could expect the following when the league returns.
Rearranged format of matches
The BCCI has approved April 15 in the expectation that the spread of the deadly virus might have reduced considerably. The IPL usually is a near-two-month affair that sees all participating clubs digging it out for the title. Now, with the Covid-19 in view, the much-anticipated tournament might only last a period between April 15 and May 5.
Also, it is traditional for IPL teams to play home and away matches for the aggregates to be calculated. However, there could be a possibility that the games be played once, with the winner advancing to the next stage.
Reduced participation of Foreign players
Being a pandemic, there are increasing suspicions that there might be a reduction in the lineup of foreign players. Foreign players might want to eschew participating in the IPL, considering the virus may not be totally out of India when it starts.
With the outright reluctance of some states to have the IPL hosted in their stadiums, the league might be hosted in fewer stadiums. The IPL typically features eight teams, with each having a stadium of its own. However, with the expected return of the IPL in April, the league might be hosted in three or four stadiums.
Can the IPL be hosted under current circumstances?
The Indian Ministry of Sports has directed that, if inevitable, all sports competitions must hold behind closed doors. The closed-door competitions will only be viewed on the TVs, with no spectators in the stadium to watch them. If the IPL were to be held closed doors, a lot of revenue would be lost, especially from ticket sales. The IPL has so much economic importance in India, given that cricket is the most followed sport in the country.
Though there will be increased profits from TV rights, ticket sales far outweigh the TV profits to be made. Thus, holding the tournament with the stadium shut won’t be of advantage to franchisers, BCCI, IPL fans, and the nation at large.