IPL owners have discussed staging games behind closed doors

The Indian Premier League (IPL) has been delayed until mid-April at the earliest, and games could take place without any fans present.

Manoj Badale is the lead owner of the Rajasthan Royals franchise.   -  Getty Images

The owners of Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises have discussed the possibility of staging games behind closed doors this year, according to Manoj Badale.

The 13th edition of the world's premier Twenty20 competition was due to begin this week, but it was postponed until April 15 at the earliest due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Badale, one of the co-owners of Rajasthan Royals, revealed one of the mooted options has been contesting fixtures without fans present, which he feels may be a necessary evil.

"Both conversations between the owners and the BCCI [Board of Control for Cricket in India], that's already been discussed," Badale told BBC 5 live.

"As with the English Premier League, the atmosphere is a huge part of the spectacle, but, again, these are unprecedented times and sport needs to be put in the right perspective overall. If the way of ensuring the cricket economy survives is by playing behind closed doors, so be it."

There have been only 1,251 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in India, fewer than Luxembourg. So, while staging the IPL in the coming weeks would seem unfathomable to many in Europe, Badale said there is still a belief the tournament could be held in two months' time.

"In India the COVID phenomenon has only really just landed so when we have our owners' conference calls, there's still an expectation that there may be a way of the games being played in June," he added. "Personally I can't see it happening until much later in the year."

That would have an impact on an already congested cricket calendar, especially as the T20 World Cup is due to start in October. Yet Badale emphasised the financial value of the IPL to the sport.

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"Fundamentally, to the cricket economy - not just to the Indian cricket economy, but to the global cricket economy - the IPL is incredibly important," he said.

"Not just what it means for players, but what it means for the supply chain that a $600m-a-year tournament creates."

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