IPL could be deferred to next year if April 20 deadline missed: Official

The thirteenth edition of the Indian Premier League has been suspended until April 15 due to fears surrounding Coronavirus pandemic.

Uday Shankar, the Asia-Pacific head of The Walt Disney Company, which has the IPL global broadcast rights, joined the IPL authorities for a meeting.   -  k.r. deepak

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has suspended the Indian Premier League’s (IPL’s) 13th edition till April 15. The IPL was scheduled to be played in nine cities across the country from March 29 to May 24.

An IPL official revealed to Sportstar that the uncertainty revolving around the nature of the coronavirus calamity left the BCCI with no choice but to defer the start for now. “If at all the IPL starts, it would be around April 20 but the decision will be made around April 10. If the tournament doesn’t start by April 20, it will have to be deferred till the next year,” the official said, citing anonymity.

According to the official, the “six-week window from April 21 till May 31” is suffice to host 60 matches with “multiple double-headers”. But the decision will depend on the “extent of the virus infection by first week of April”.

Earlier, BCCI secretary Jay Shah said: “The BCCI is concerned and sensitive about all its stakeholders, and public health in general, and it is taking all necessary steps to ensure that, all people related to IPL including fans have a safe cricketing experience,” said a statement issued by BCCI.

READ | IPL 2020 suspended till April 15 amid coronavirus fears

“The BCCI will work closely with the Government of India along with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and all other relevant Central and State Government departments in this regard.”

It may widely be perceived that the IPL will start on April 15, but Sportstar understands that no one in the BCCI is certain on whether the 13th edition will be played or not. While the BCCI announced the suspension through a statement, Shah, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly and IPL governing council chairman Brijesh Patel were huddled at the BCCI headquarters since Friday morning.

Later in the afternoon, Uday Shankar, the Asia-Pacific head of The Walt Disney Company, which has the IPL global broadcast rights, joined the IPL authorities for a meeting.

The IPL official also said that the authorities informally consulted with the franchisees and some of the big teams were hesitant to start the IPL as per schedule without any overseas participation. “Besides players, most teams have foreigners in its coaching staff. Since the visa issue is unresolved, they were not so keen on starting the tournament without coaches, not just the players,” the official revealed.

The franchisees are likely to be formally briefed about the possible window and venues during a meeting with the IPL governing council on Saturday.

The IPL authorities haven’t given up on staging the T20 league this year. On Friday, despite suspending the tournament till April 15, umpire appointment letters were sent to Indians shortlisted for the league.

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