The Indian Premier League (IPL) season 2019 may possibly be shifted to South Africa, England or there may be some games in the United Arab Emirates.
The General Elections in the country, which on the earlier two occasions have forced the IPL in South Africa and the UAE, may now cause a third overseas stint for the IPL.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) are as much concerned as the national political parties about the announcement of the schedule of the general elections for the 17th Lok Sabha next year.
The previous two general election years have seen the world’s richest professional T20 league shift to a foreign country – South Africa in 2009 and to UAE in 2014. With yet another general election approaching the BCCI is already gearing up for IPL 2019 with various contingency plans.
With a huge man force of police and paramilitary required for the election duties, the Indian government usually doesn’t allow nation-wide extravagant affairs like the IPL because of security concerns.
According to a report by Mumbai Mirror, the BCCI management headed by CEO Rahul Johri and IPL COO Hemang Amin along with Vinod Rai-led Committee of Administrators (CoA) have chalked out three plans – A, B & C.
If the 12th edition of IPL has to be entirely shifted out of India, South Africa is the preferred venue. Otherwise in case of a partial shift, like it happened in 2014, UAE will then be considered. England is also kept as an option, but considering the high costs it is not the preferred choice.
Even with the presence of large expat Indian population and cost benefits, UAE’s limited infrastructure may only allow a part of the fixture of the 60-match, two-month long schedule. The country at best has only three major grounds in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah each.
The report, citing BCCI sources, suggests that talks have been initiated informally with stakeholders and potential future hosts (South Africa, Emirates and even England boards) as well as the franchisees. A meeting was also scheduled for today (Tuesday) to discuss the viability of all the options.
IPL 12 is expected to kick-off in the last week of March, in contrast with the first week of April over the years, to accommodate the upcoming challenges including the next year’s world cup and commitments of the FTPs.
However, IPL has still not cleared the clouds of controversy trailing behind the 2019 edition in South Africa. Tainted former IPL commissioner and economic fugitive Lalit Modi along with former BCCI president Shashank Manohar and other officials of the Indian cricket board were investigated by Enforcement Directorate for violation of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) in lieu of payments worth ₹ 243 crores ($33.45 million) to Cricket South Africa.