IPL 2020: BCCI, franchises adopt wait-and-watch policy

"We are looking at every possible option," said an IPL franchise owner who attended the meeting at the BCCI headquarters.

Kolkata Knight Riders' principal owner Shah Rukh Khan arrives for the BCCI-franchises meeting with franchise's CEO Venky Mysore   -  VIVEK BENDRE

The owners and the executives of all the eight Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises gathered at the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) headquarters on Saturday to deliberate on the future of the tournament this year.

Bollywood superstar and Kolkata Knight Riders' (KKR) principal owner, Shah Rukh Khan, too, attended the meeting along with the representatives of the other franchises and in an hour-long conversation with BCCI chief Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah, it was decided that they will wait till the 'last week of March' for a clearer picture.

BCCI, in a statement, reiterated its stand of putting safety and well-being of fans, athletes and employees as a priority.

"The board will continue to monitor and work closely with Government of India, state governments and other state regulatory bodies to decide on the future course of action in the best interest of public health," it added.

"The franchises were given seven-eight options and it was just a basic discussion on how to go about it," one of the franchise bosses, who attended the meeting, told Sportstar.

Window to be extended?

While there was no official word, it is understood that the franchises did discuss the possibility of extending the window till May 31. One of the franchise officials, remarked: "There were a couple of other options as well." It has been learnt that the Board will speak to other overseas cricket bodies to decide in case the window can be extended at least till the first week of June.

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Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals owners Akash Ambani (centre) and Parth Jindal (left) arrive at the BCCI headquarters   -  VIVEK BENDRE

According to the original schedule, the tournament was to start on March 29 and get over on May 24. But with the health ministry issuing stricter guidelines in the wake of coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak fears, the tournament had to be suspended till April 15.

"We have been informed that the league can maximum be extended up to May 31. It's not clear on how things will pan out, but as of now, we are looking at every possible options," one of the franchise owners said.

 

However, he indicated that there were deliberations on whether double-headers could be increased, now that the tournament is starting after nearly 18 days.

"The idea was to basically sit together and find out what could be the possibilities. Things are not clear as of now, so all the franchises discussed on what could be the possible approach in various situations," the franchise boss said.

Money not a factor now

Kings XI Punjab co-owner, Ness Wadia, said: "At this point of time, the safety is the top priority. Now, it is incorrect for us to even think about one rupee. Money is not the factor now, we have to be extremely careful about the situation and public safety is very important."

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

With restrictions being imposed on visas for overseas players and support staff, teams have called off their scheduled practice sessions and for Kings XI Punjab, overseas support staff -- including fielding coach Jonty Rhodes -- have gone back home. Other franchises have also called off their camps.

Delhi Capitals owner, Parth Jindal said: Health and safety of the public is most important thing and of paramount importance. As things progress and evolve, BCCI will call for another meeting to discuss all the options."

 

"We will closely monitor the advisory issued by the health ministry and react accordingly. In case the games are played behind closed doors, we need to ensure that the safety standards of the players, groundsmen and support staff are not compromised. That was one of the major talking points," the franchise owner said.

Visa puzzle

The franchises are also keen on sorting out the visa puzzle. As per the rules listed by the government, “all existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/International Organizations, employment, project visas, stand suspended till 15th April 2020.”

Since B-Sports - or even Business Visa is not specified in the list of exceptions by the Health Ministry, the overseas cricketers can't come down to India before April 15. "That's one of the major areas the Board needs to address. We will have to keep a tab on the development and see what happens to the guidelines," a franchise boss said. "The Board will be in constant touch with the ministry and keep us informed."

Contrary to reports, there were no discussions about shifting the tournament out of India. The IPL Governing Council is scheduled to meet later in the afternoon for another round of discussion.

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