The UAE is no stranger to hosting the IPL, having arranged 20 matches in 2014 to avoid date clashes with the general elections in India. However, it’s not a proposal the Indian board (BCCI) is expected to jump upon at this stage.
“The UAE has offered to host the IPL if we want them to. But right now when there is no international travel, there is no question of taking a call on that,” said BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal.
The BCCI hasn’t given up hope of rescheduling the IPL and keeping it in India should the coronavirus be contained. BCCI officials say they have been looking at identifying bio-secure stadiums at home, but India currently has far too many virus affected red zones.
In a scenario where the government is unable to lift the curbs on sporting events, would the BCCI be open to move the IPL to a foreign land, like they had done in 2009 (South Africa) and in 2014?
Dhumal was non-committal. “The health and security of players and all participants is our priority. At the moment, the entire world travel has come to a standstill, so there is nothing we can decide at this stage,” he said.
Taking the IPL abroad is a contingency that has been discussed with franchises over informal channels. Even if the IPL is staged in India, closed-door matches look like the best bet. Franchises, in any case, stand to lose out on revenue from gate receipts.
Similarly, with social distancing guidelines expected to stay regardless of the venue, maximum leverage for sponsors (like player meet-and-greets) are unlikely. Sri Lanka and UAE being geographically close, TV timings would be a non-issue.