Venue conundrum for BCCI after High Court order

The rescheduling will have a deep impact over the franchises’ economics since the revenue earned through gate receipts forms a major chunk of the franchises’ earnings.

The Saurashtra Cricket Association has offered to accommodate more than the five games allotted to it.

The Bombay High Court’s directive to move all the scheduled Indian Premier League (IPL) games in May out of Maharashtra, including the final, has thrown the IPL operations into a mess. While the BCCI hierarchy is awaiting advice from its legal team over challenging the High Court's order in the apex court, the operations team is looking at other options.

Of the 13 games that are set to be affected by the court order, three games – two playoffs and the final – are organised by the BCCI. The final had to be allotted to Mumbai because it is the last year's winner.

RELIANCE STADIUM WILL BE DARK HORSE

The Kings XI Punjab has already expressed its willingness to move three of its home matches, scheduled in Nagpur in May, to Mohali, its primary base. That would mean seven matches will have to be rescheduled in consultation with the franchises.

A BCCI official confirmed on condition of anonymity that no decision on new venues will be taken without consulting the three franchises who have been severely affected with the court order. Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiants may be given an option to pick from the available cities. The Reliance Stadium at Baroda may emerge as a dark horse in this case since the stadium is owned by the owners of the Mumbai Indians.

The rescheduling will have a deep impact over the franchises’ economics since the revenue earned through gate receipts forms a major chunk of the franchises’ earnings. If Pune’s games move to a smaller stadium from the Maharashtra Cricket Association’s stadium on the outskirts of Pune, with a capacity of 45,000, their revenue will be severely impacted and the BCCI will have to compensate them.

VENUE CONUNDRUM

Six cities – Ranchi, Indore, Kanpur, Raipur, Dharamsala and Visakhapatnam – had been shortlisted as likely venues to host the 13 games. However, by Wednesday night, Indore was out of race. With the Kumbh Mela to be held in its neighbouring city, Ujjain, all through May, it will be a logistical nighmare to host the matches in the den of Madhya Pradesh cricket.

With Kanpur yet to get a go-ahead for staging two of the Gujarat Lions’ home games, Dharamsala, Raipur and Visakhapatnam are the firm favourites to host a majority of the 13 games, should the BCCI decide to not challenge Wednesday’s order.

SHIFTING MATCHES WILL BE A PROBLEM: RAJEEV SHUKLA

“Organising the IPL is a gigantic work. It’s not easy. All preparations had been done, completed,” IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla said in New Delhi. “Now shifting the matches will be a problem. So far, we have not got the written order, after we get that, we will study the order and work out an alternative plan. We always respect the court. We need to talk to other franchises.”

The Saurashtra Cricket Association, meanwhile, has offered to accommodate more than the five games allotted to it. “It is up to the franchises and the Board but Rajkot has all the infrastructure ready and we would be more than happy to welcome more teams for playing IPL games in Rajkot, if required,” said Niranjan Shah, the Saurashtra Cricket Association secretary.