The Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises were planning to initiate the sale of match tickets this week had to put their plans on holds as a blanket of uncertainty hovers over the 13th edition of IPL following the novel Coronavirus outbreak. Executives of 4 IPL teams confirmed the same to a leading news agency of India.
A team owner said that they “were to start ticket sales on Friday, but now everyone is waiting for the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) to decide whether IPL will happen as per schedule or not,”.
“Except for the Mumbai Indians, which cannot sell tickets as per the (Maharashtra) state government directive, rest of the teams have put the sale on hold.”
On Saturday, the IPL Governing Council will have a meeting in Mumbai and will take a call on IPL 2020 which is scheduled to be played between 29th March and 24th May. Cancelling of the 13th edition of IPL or even postponing it will not be discussed as the BCCI is keen on using other options which includes organising matches without spectators or ties being held in states which could allow the matches.
On Thursday, the Sports Ministry issued an advisory to all the sporting federations of India including BCCI. The advisory said that any sporting event during the novel Coronavirus outbreak, if unavoidable, will have to be organised behind closed doors. A senior BCCI official said, “If you look at the government advisory, it’s a good move as they are not saying that matches can’t happen. We are ready to conduct IPL behind closed doors,”.
The External Affairs Ministry has advised that this year’s IPL should be called off owing to the COVID-19 outbreak, however, left the final decision at the hands of the organisers.
The ongoing three-match One Day International (ODI) between India and South Africa are also affected because of the novel Coronavirus outbreak in India as the other 2 ODI matches will be played in empty stadiums on the 15th and 18th of March in Lucknow and Kolkata, respectively.
India has suspended the tourist visa amid the Coronavirus Pandemic, however, this will not affect the entry of the international players for IPL 2020 as they have business visas, the BCCI official said, “There might be some issues, but those can be solved and visas can be obtained for the league,”.
On Wednesday, the Maharashtra government banned the sale of match tickets for IPL. It is learned that Mumbai Indians – owned by Reliance Industries – have agreed to play their matches without spectators if they are allowed to host matches at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai.
Today, the Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, Manish Sisodai, announced that ” We have decided to ban any sports activity where people will gather in huge numbers like IPL”.
Having said this, there there are other franchises who have shared concerns over sponsor’ reactions if the matches will be hosted in stadiums without live audiences present. One IPL 2020 team owner said, “Sponsors arrange a lot of activities and meet and greets during IPL. If there is no audience, they are not going to be happy about it,”.
It was an unprecedented scenario in the history of IPL where the franchises have already sold almost all of the spots for sponsorship before the commencement of the tournament. It was estimated to generate more than Rs. 500 crore in the 13th edition of IPL.