IPL governing council to discuss coronavirus threat on Saturday

The decision came on a day when the Maharashtra government discussed a proposal to stage the IPL matches behind closed doors, including the season opener and the final.

The meeting will be chaired by Brijesh Patel, the former India cricketer.   -  Prashant Nakwe

The Governing Council of the Indian Premier League (IPL) will meet in Mumbai on Saturday to discuss the threat of the coronavirus outbreak that’s set to affect the Twenty20 league’s 13th edition. The decision came on a day when the Maharashtra government discussed a proposal to stage the IPL matches behind closed doors, including the season opener and the final.

The development came a day after the Karnataka government wrote to the union government seeking its advice on the staging of IPL macthes in the state.

With two of the nine states where the 60 IPL games are scheduled to be played from March 29 raising concerns, the IPL authorities will have to act swiftly to ensure that the business interests of the league is taken care of without compromising the safety of the players.

READ| Coronavirus effect: BCCI issues advisory for South Africa ODIs

BCCI president Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah are set to attend the Governing Council meeting, which will be chaired by former India batsman Brijesh Patel. With the secretary’s father being union home minister Amit Shah, a possible solution is likely to be tabled before the Governing Council come Saturday.

With Karnataka and Maharashtra – both states with positive COVID-19 cases on the rise – having initiated action despite the Maharashtra government supporting a veterans’ cricket league that’s being played in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Pune at the moment, other state governments are likely to step in and oppose the playing of the IPL.

READ| Coronavirus: India in two minds about using saliva to shine ball

While the Governing Council members are tight-lipped for now, Sportstar understands that the IPL may be forced to follow the trend of global sporting events by staging matches in front of empty stands. The IPL revenue model is such that the gate receipts don’t account for a major revenue factor, even for the franchisees, which retain a major chunk of the income through the sale of tickets.

A franchisee official, citing anonymity, admitted that “playing in front of empty stands, although a last resort, is better than not playing at all.” But with the franchisees having little say in the organisation of the IPL, the next few days will decide the fate of the 2020 season.

  Dugout videos