IPL 2020 likely to be postponed indefinitely due to COVID-19

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File: Faf du Plessis’ 42-ball 67 guided CSK to a two-wicket win, Sunrisers Hyderabad v Chennai Super Kings, IPL 2018, Mumbai, May 22, 2018
©BCCI

IPL 2020 is likely to be postponed indefinitely owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is understood that the BCCI has not set a new window yet for the tournament which was to be held between March 29 and May 24.

The decision to postpone the IPL was discussed by the BCCI’s top brass including Sourav Ganguly (president), Jay Shah (secretary), Brijesh Patel (IPL chairman) over a conference call on Tuesday evening. Also part of the call were Arun Dhumal (BCCI treasurer) and Hemang Amin (IPL chief operating officer).

ESPNcricinfo understands the BCCI will formally announce their decision after convening a meeting of the IPL Governing Council this week.

This is the second time the BCCI has been forced to defer the IPL. Last month, after the Indian government had put the country in a three-week lockdown, the board pushed the start date of the tournament back to April 15.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an extension of India’s lockdown until May 3, even as all domestic and international travel in and out of India continue to remain blocked. This made it apparent that the IPL had to be put off indefinitely.

Although it was preparing for this scenario for some time, the BCCI had also been optimistic about conducting a month-long IPL with the final scheduled on the first week of June. Also as part of its contingency planning, the BCCI was looking into staging all the matches behind closed doors in the same city or state.

All those plans had to be pushed to the backburner after a spike in coronavirus infections around the country. As of Tuesday, over 11,000 people had tested positive for the disease in India with deaths inching closer to the 400-mark.

With several restrictions put in place by the government in terms of social distancing and travel bans, and overseas players unable to participate with their own countries under lockdown, the BCCI was left with little choice but to put off the IPL.

This leaves the tournament’s stakeholders, including the players, facing a big setback. At the auction last December, a total 62 players were bought by the eight franchise who spent INR 140.30 crores. Australian fast bowler Pat Cummins became the most expensive overseas buy in IPL’s history after Kolkata Knight Riders bought him for INR 15.5 crores.

Neither Cummins, nor any of the other IPL players will receive any money until the tournament actually takes place. As per the norm, franchises make payment in two instalments: the first a week before the tournament starts and the rest after the season is over.

The franchises, too, will feel the pinch as they rely heavily on the IPL’s commercial revenue, which also includes broadcast rights which were bought by Star India for a record sum for a five-year period in 2017. Every franchise, since then, was assured a minimum share worth INR 150 crores.