IPL deferment imminent; foreign players, restricted stadia entry big issues

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The Indian Premier League 2020 is all but set to be postponed. Latest travel restrictions by the Government of India mean that foreign players will not be available at least until April 15. The idea of playing the league games behind closed doors has also not gone down well with the stakeholders, who are not ready to accept a compromise formulae as all remedial measures will come at the cost of their ROIs.

The IPL Governing Council is expected to confirm a postponement over the next couple of days.

Also Read: No IPL matches in Delhi in wake of Coronavirus threat: Manish Sisodia

Maharashtra bans IPL ticket sales amidst Coronavirus threat: Reports

Franchisees are not at all happy with the “compromise formula” for the IPL matches in empty stadiums. The concerns are not just limited to gate collections, which might “though be compensated by the Board of Control for Cricket in India to some extent”. The bigger issue is about the sponsors, who are already looking to reconsider or renegotiate  their  commitments.

Amidst uncertainties, franchisees are awaiting the final word from the BCCI before they react “collectively”.

“We (the franchisees) are monitoring the situation. IPL is an expensive affair for the (team) owners. Every penny counts. In a scenario, when the board has already hit us financially by reducing prize money and added to our burdens by enhancing the hosting fee for the games, any other dent to the revenue will hit our P&L severely,” a senior team management official told InsideSport.co on condition of anonymity. “We are awaiting for a formal word from the BCCI. It is important to get clear picture before we make our submission.

“This (the Coronavirus threat) is an alarming situation. We are aware that the games cannot go on normally in this scenario when the whole world is feeling the brunt of this deadly disease. Having said it, we also cannot accept any alternate formula if does not make business sense.”

The Maharashtra Government advisory to the BCCI for not selling tickets for the Mumbai IPL games has left the team sponsors worried. As the developments has fuelled speculation about IPL matches behind closed doors, the sponsors find the development damaging to their marketing plans on the multi-crore rupee IPL investments.

“The sponsors will obviously feel offended for being deprived of their brand activation plans. Returns on the investment of huge marketing spending on the teams are not just aimed at broadcast exposure. The sponsors work on garnering crucial mileage through massive activation programmes. For an investor who is committing huge sums on sponsorships every eyeball counts,” says Sporty Solutionz Chief Executive Ashish Chadha.

“Latest developments have put all ongoing (sponsorship) negotiations on a halt. Those who have already inked deals are a little concerned. They will certainly not go with the deals which are evaluated for a hassle free, normal IPL. These concerns are also boiling down to the franchisees. They (the franchisees) are the ones who will have to bear the ultimate brunt,” added Chadha.

Among other developments, the Karnataka State Government has also sought guidelines from the Ministry of Health, Union of India, for conduct of the IPL matches in Bangalore.

The BCCI  will be evaluating the options like the league behind the closed doors or a deferment by several weeks and then a curtailed league.

Whatever the final outcome, a postponement at this stage is imminent also due to foreign players availability in wake of the visa restrictions. Beyond that the business of IPL is set to have serious setback. Rounds of negotiations between the BCCI and franchisees, team owners and sponsors and also the broadcaster and the board are on the cards as and when the board takes a call on the league.

COVID-19 virus, which has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, has  affected around 1.26 people worldwide and resulted in more than 4,600 deaths. Till Wednesday evening, 60 positive cases including a death have been confirmed in India.

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