The Board of Control for Cricket in India has kept on hold its decision to move the Indian Premier League matches later this year to an overseas venue, according to its president N. Srinivasan. The Board’s working committee, which met in Bhubaneswar on Friday, decided a final decision will be made after the dates of the upcoming general elections are announced.
The BCCI is contemplating to move at least “half of the games” to an overseas venue in the almost two-month long tournament. South Africa look like a preferred destination even as United Arab Emirates is an option. The Rainbow Nation had hosted the IPL in 2009 because the Indian government had declined to provide security due to elections.
The BCCI is facing a 2009-like situation this year too. The Union Home Ministry has already said it will not be able to provide adequate security because the IPL matches, scheduled between April 9 and June 3, are clashing with the Lok Sabha polls. With security also a state subject, interestingly, a few non-Congress state governments have reportedly offered to host games. With several team owners wanting IPL to remain in India purely due to commercial reasons, the BCCI is expected to offer a ‘compromise’ formula to offset losses.
According to information available in the media, IPL team franchises are against matches moving out of India. If half of the IPL games are moved overseas, each of the eight IPL team could lose as much as Rs 50 crore, most of which will be gate receipts. A financial daily quotes a top Delhi Daredevil official who says that his team will lose 40% revenue if 50% of the matches are played abroad. A franchise spends around Rs 60 crore purely as fees to players. Gate receipts (ticket sales) make up for at least 35% of a team’s overall revenue.
When in India, IPL matches are played on a home-and-away basis. Every team plays at least seven games at its ‘home’ ground or a venue of its choice. Surveys reveal that the Delhi government made at least Rs 96 crore from direct and indirect taxes from six games last year. Daredevils team owners fear that if matches are played in South Africa, the fun of watching your ‘own’ team will be totally lost. It effectively means there will be no ‘home’ support and the turnouts will be unpredictable. It will directly impact sale of food, merchandise and put off a host of local sponsors.
A cola company, which has bought the title rights of the IPL by paying a massive 800 crore for five years, is also against the tournament moving abroad. IPL chairman Ranjib Biswal has apparently promised “a good package” that will neutralize losses. BCCI makes its biggest profit from the IPL. Last year it had a surplus of Rs 360 crore. In 2012, the surplus was 152.9 crore. Most IPL teams usually break even after meeting all their costs. BCCI will surely protect the goose that lays the golden eggs.