IPL in UAE subject to Indian Govt nod


Dubai Cricket stadium - IPL news UAE August 2020 Image: royalchallengers.com

The 13th edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) will begin from September 19th and the final will be played on November 10th in the UAE – of course, subject to Government of India approval. The decision was taken in an IPL Governing Council meeting on August 2nd.

The Indian Premier League is a professional Twenty20 cricket league in India contested during March or April and May of every year by eight teams representing eight different cities in India. The league was founded by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in 2008.

Though the nod from the Ministry of Home Affairs in India is awaited to fly the IPL to the UAE, the BCCI is presently making all the necessary arrangements in the background. It has been understood that a list of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) prepared by the BCCI would soon be sent to each of the franchises.

Speaking to mediapersons, a BCCI official said it’s not just the players on the field, even their wives and girlfriends (WAGs), and franchise owners, will have to follow the norms of the “bio-bubble” that will be defined.

“Once they are in the bio-bubble, no one can break it and rejoin,” the official said.

Every player will be checked for COVID-19 four times in two weeks. A very stringent bio-secure bubble for the health and safety of everyone who is involved will be in place where no one can break it and rejoin later.

“The BCCI will not decide whether WAGs and family members can travel with the players, we have left it to the franchises. But we have put out a protocol in which everyone, even team bus drivers, can’t leave the bio-bubble,” the official said.

Some inputs from the recently concluded England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB’s) Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the England vs. West Indies Test Series will be taken by the BCCI. Over the past seasons, international players used to enter the team’s boot camp days prior to the start of the tournament, but this time around everyone will need to enter the bubble together.

The franchises will soon be informed about SOPs to be followed in the UAE. The squad strength has been limited to 24 players each, and COVID-19 substitutes will be allowed. There was no discussion on compensating franchises for any loss over gate receipts or sponsorships. Some teams are better placed than others.

“So far, so good; all our sponsors are with us. We are waiting for the official announcement from BCCI after which we can make our plans for training camps,” Chennai Super Kings CEO, KS Viswanathan, said.

“The SOPs will be finalized and published in due course, including the agencies to execute and deliver a bio-secure environment for safe and successful conduct of IPL,” a BCCI statement said. A meeting with the franchises will be held soon.

“The SOPs will be handed over to the franchises once we have a meeting with them next week. If they have any grievances, they can come back to the Board and we will discuss it,” the official added.

Matches will be a closed door affair with no fans to be allowed inside the stadium at least at the beginning of the tournament. Commentators will be at a distance of 6 feet from each other, pre-and post-match presentations will be constructed in line with social distancing norms, and most importantly, team dugouts will have to be less crowded and a maximum of 15 players from each team will be advised to use the dressing room.

“We don’t want to take risks. At least for the early part of the tournament, the games will be played behind closed doors,” the official said.

Later, if the UAE Government permits, a collective decision will be taken on whether to permit spectators, and how many.

The Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) is hopeful spectators will be allowed. “As hosts, Emirates Cricket Board will work closely with the UAE Government to seek approval on what protocols need to be followed; this includes fan attendance at all stadia. We want our Asian diaspora as well as the other expat and Emirati sports-loving fans (in the UAE) to be able to watch the action from the stands,” ECB Secretary General, Mubashshir Usmani, said.

IPL in India

“While everyone wanted the IPL to be held in India, and we explored home-IPL creating a bio-secure bubble, it wasn’t considered safe,” a BCCI official said. A plan was drawn up to stage IPL at three-four venues in Mumbai-Pune and in three venues in Gujarat – Rajkot, Ahmedabad and Vadodara. The proposal was sent to the Government, but, with COVID-19 almost laying a siege and continuing to batter India, the idea was not accepted.

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