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Home or away? IPL dilemma worsens

Cricket news - Home or away? IPL dilemma worsens

Less than two weeks to go for the IPL player auctions in Jaipur, the BCCI, on Wednesday (December 5), released a grand statement to convey that over 1000 players had registered for the mega event on December 18. However, the cricket board - the Committee of Administrators (CoA), CEO, members, franchises and IPL staff / fraternity, all put together - have no idea where the tournament's 2019 edition will be played.

The IPL is scheduled to begin anytime mid-March, keeping the ICC 50-over World Cup that begins in England on May 30. The onus is on the BCCI to conclude the tournament as early as possible running into the World Cup because of player availability.

BCCI is waiting on the schedule of the general elections in India to finalise a venue for the 12th edition of the IPL and the cricket board has clearly not benefited from its previous experiences.

In 2009, before the last-hour call to shift the IPL to South Africa and again in 2014, when the BCCI shifted the first quarter of the tournament to the UAE, the IPL fraternity had no inkling about the possible destination till the last minute. The year 2019 appears to be no different, "except that this time around, we can't see who in BCCI is going to take this call?" say those tracking developments.

TOI has learnt that Star India, the broadcaster that has shelled out in excess of INR 16000 crore for IPL rights, does not want the tournament shifted out of the country. "They have a lot at stake and it is only fair that they will want the IPL to be played in India, to maximize their revenue streams," say industry sources.

However, with the general elections coming up, neither BCCI nor Star has as much a say in the matter. "It is the central government's call to take and there's no written word yet. Unofficially, and it's only hearsay still, the government will want the IPL to stay in India," say those connected with the BCCI.

TOI can confirm that the governing council of the IPL, in its present form, does not exist anymore. Top Board officials confirmed that "there is no GC and all decisions taken with regard to IPL is going to be the COA's call".

The franchises say none of this is their concern. "Year after year, this is how BCCI manages things. It expects top dollar from the rights they sell but have no idea how to conduct their affairs," say officials from two franchises.

BCCI did a recce of South Africa last month and are convinced about the facilities available. A similar recce of the UAE has been scheduled this week. Both, Cricket South Africa and the Emirates Cricket Board are willing to play hosts to the league.

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