Moving a step back from the earlier proposal to bring out a tender for two new franchises in the Indian Premier League (IPL), the BCCI is now busy contemplating introduction of just one franchise early next year for two seasons before introducing the 10th team. Instead of 10 teams, the IPL could now have nine until the year 2022 and the possible decision – the move is still being contemplated – could be based on multiple aspects that are being considered.
Firstly, for lack of a window to host 90-plus matches at the moment – owing to the current Future Tours Program (FTP) of the ICC – a nine-team IPL will allow the tournament to be conducted around 76 matches for which the existing window can be stretched. “Nine teams work well until a new FTP can fall in place (2023) and BCCI can introduce the 10th team,” sources say.
Second, the BCCI is contemplating a base price of somewhere around US$300m for the new franchise and is clearly unsure at the moment if more than one venue will attract that kind of investment in the prevailing market. “There are buyers. That’s not the point. But are there enough buyers coming to the table where bidding can be a competitive process? For one franchise? Yes, For two? Let’s see,” sources add.
Third, the Sardar Patel stadium in Motera, Ahmedabad, is getting ready and could be available for cricket from the month of March this year. For a 110,000-capacity venue, one that will go on to become the biggest and fanciest cricket stadium in the world, not having a franchise of its own will make little sense.
“There will be takers, given the following for cricket in Ahmedabad and the resources available there. So, if a tender is brought out for one franchise right now, there’ll certainly be great amount of interest and will set a future benchmark,” say those in the know. Finally, the BCCI has multiple other aspects to consider in IPL before it can introduce the 10th team.
The idea of a nine-team IPL for now (for a season or two) is merely under serious contemplation at the moment and not a final one.