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BCCI to go ahead with mini IPL in Sep

MUMBAI: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is going ahead with its plans of launching a mini version of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in the September window, which is lying vacant due to the scrapping of the Champions League Twenty20 last year.

BCCI president Anurag Thakur revealed that the ‘mini IPL’ or IPL overseas will be a two-to-three-week affair with participation from all the eight IPL teams.

IPL“In the month of September, the BCCI is willing to host a mini IPL or IPL overseas with all the eight teams participating,” Thakur said after the conclusion of the board’s working committee meeting.

“It will be a shorter format, not home and away matches but a lesser number of matches. We should be able to complete it in a two-week window,” he said.

The BCCI is considering the US and UAE as possible venues for the tournament.

The BCCI has been planning to organise a shorter version of the IPL ever since the CL T20 got scrapped. The international club-based tournament involving teams from India, Australia, South Africa, the West Indies and New Zealand was shut as the commercial rights-holder Star India was not interested in continuing with the property due to its weak popularity. Star had paid $420 million to get out of the tournament.

According to Delhi Daredevils CEO Hemant Dua, it is too early to speculate as one does not know the form the event will take. However, he does not feel that viewer fatigue will be an issue.

“The NBA and EPL run for eight months. The IPL is just two months. I think that the new event if it happens will be a quicker format, more fun. It could be like a playoff situation where every match is important. But it is tough to think about the extent of revenue growth as one does not know the format of the event,” he said.

He is also encouraged by the viewer response that this season’s IPL got. “The IPL is always exciting. The competition on the field is increasing and getting better. There will be takers for a new event.”

Gujarat Lions CEO Arvinder Singh noted that nothing has been officially communicated from the BCCI. He also added that if an event is to take place in September, then the planning has to start now.

“We are already knocking on July. But how it will happen? What will it entail? What does the BCCI expect from franchisees? Therefore, it is premature to talk about it. But I am sure that the BCCI will get in touch with franchise owners shortly if they are looking at an event for September. All the franchises would want to play more. Earlier you had the Champions League Twenty20 where the top four teams participated.”

He also wonders how it will be conducted. After all, if all the eight teams have to play and if media reports are correct about the two-week window, then a group format might happen.

A senior sports broadcasting executive said that the mini IPL would help in spreading the fan base of the tournament. He also said that the gate revenue would be a major revenue source for the mini IPL. The executive cautioned that the BCCI should schedule it smartly so that there is no overkill of the IPL.

The main IPL involves eight franchises playing 59 matches. The IPL is traditionally played in April–May, which is a holiday season for schools in India. This helps the IPL to draw crowd to the stadium and ensures stable viewership for the property.

It will be interesting to see which country the BCCI finally chooses to hold the mini IPL. One of the important considerations will be ensuring that the timing of matches is suitable for Indian viewers.

The announcement of mini IPL comes at a time when the BCCI is negotiating its contract renewal with Sony Pictures Networks India, the official TV broadcast partner of the IPL.