AHMEDABAD: The BCCI-led Indian Premier League (IPL) governing council has proposed that the 2021 edition of the tournament, apropos of the venues it is held across in the country, will not allow spectators at the stadiums.
Until now, Mumbai was the only venue that was restricting crowds from coming to the stadiums, given the second Covid wave that has been spreading at a rapid pace. Now, the BCCI is on the verge of taking the call that none of the venues will allow crowds this season. A call to this effect is likely to be ratified at Sunday’s GC meeting.
Those tracking developments say: “If fans are not being allowed, then why host the IPL at multiple venues in the first place? What is considered as home advantage in a tournament like the IPL? Fans, right? If there are no fans allowed, then why have the tournament at multiple venues and risk travel?”
These questions took a serious turn after the Pakistan Super League (PSL) got indefinitely called off because of Covid cases. “What happens if the IPL gets Covid cases? Won’t the T20 World Cup be in question?” sources add.
Meanwhile, there’s another line of thought under debate. If one of the multiple options that GC is considering goes through, MS Dhoni may not get to play even a single match at his home ground – MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai – despite matches being played at the venue.
The GC has laid out a few options to be considered ahead of its meeting on Sunday: A) A caravan model, where teams will move around in clusters, to be part of an easily-buildable bio-secure bubble; B) Specific venues will be allotted where all franchises will play their matches on a home and away basis – which Punjab Kings, Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad have an issue with because Mohali, Jaipur and Hyderabad have been left out; C) Franchises will play at multiple venues but will be allowed to play a single match at their home venue – to bring in an air of neutrality.
“Just imagine, there’s IPL in Chennai but Dhoni plays in Mumbai or Kolkata or Bangalore but not at his home ground. Or there are matches in Mumbai but Mumbai Indians play their matches in Delhi. What sense will that make?” say those part of the ecosystem.
Teams are particularly unhappy with option C.
“If there are no fans, then why multiple venues? If we must have multiple venues, then why not allow home matches? A bit of logic is missing here,” say those in the know.
Further, the T20 World Cup is scheduled in India between October and November and the onus is on the BCCI, as much as the ICC, to ensure smooth conduct of the tournament.
Those who hold the industry perspective say, all eyes will be on how the BCCI goes about planning that tournament. “The foremost thing will be the precedence they set for it and there’s nothing bigger than the IPL to draw any comparison. So, whatever the BCCI does over the next two or three months is going to be the benchmark,” sources say.