Fate of World T20, IPL could be decided today
The crucial ICC meeting is all set to decide on the fate of the T20 World Cup and there could also be a decision on the IPL.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) could decide on the fate of the 2020 T20 World Cup at its board meeting on Thursday. The World T20 is scheduled in Australia from October 18 to November 15. According to ICC’s contingency plans, the 2020 World Cup can be postponed to three possible slots: February-March 2021, October 2021 or October 2022. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), ICC’s richest affiliate, wouldn’t want the first two options.
“Pushing the World Cup to Feb-March 2021 would eat into our bilateral FTP (Future Tours Programme, according to which India are supposed to play England at that time). It wouldn’t be wise to allow an ICC event to further dent bilateral competitions, already affected by Covid-19,” said a BCCI official who did not wish to be named.
The official also said pushing the 2020 World Cup to October 2021 would mean the one India is supposed to hold at that time goes to 2022 and BCCI wouldn’t want that. “It would force us to host two World Cups in six months because the 50-over World Cup has been allotted to India in Feb-March 2023.”
The view within BCCI is that with international travel suspended, players under lockdown in different parts of the world, mandatory quarantine rules, and losses incurred from a closed-door World Cup will lead to Cricket Australia (CA) seeking a postponement. CA is said to be keener on India’s year-end tour to Australia because of the television money it could fetch.
Officially, BCCI is saying nothing. “We are not saying that the T20 World Cup be postponed. It’s a call Cricket Australia will have to take,” says BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal.
And neither is ICC. “The ICC has not taken a decision to postpone the T20 World Cup and preparations are ongoing for the event in Australia this year as per plan. The topic is on the agenda for the ICC Board meeting and a decision will be made in due course,” said a spokesperson.
However, a media release from cricket’s apex body on Wednesday also said, “a number of contingency plans are being explored in light of the rapidly changing public health situation caused by the Covid 19 virus.”
CA’s views will be sought by the board but if ICC okays shifting the 16-nation T20 World Cup in Australia to 2022. Many cricket boards have said they wouldn’t mind that—it would give BCCI a window to hold IPL this year. Not hosting the IPL could cost BCCI Rs 4000 crore.
The lockdown to combat Covid-19 has led to IPL 13 being postponed and BCCI CEO Rahul Johri said last week that it could be held after monsoon.
Whether the 2020 World Cup is postponed though could hinge on the relationship improving between ICC and BCCI. Going into Thursday’s meeting, the two are in the middle of a two-month combative exchange on e-mail over a tax rebate dating to the 2016 World T20 in India.
At the nub of these festering exchanges is BCCI reportedly being keen on replacing ICC chairman Shashank Manohar with someone of its choice. That Manohar won’t continue was confirmed by ICC’s media release on Wednesday.
One of those mails told BCCI that the 2021 T20 World Cup could be taken away from India should the dispute not be solved. BCCI’s request to extend the deadline till June 30 citing the national lockdown has been turned down by ICC.
ICC claims it has been denied $23.7 million from the 2016 World T20 and has withheld that amount from BCCI’s share. BCCI has taken the matter to ICC’s Dispute Resolutions Committee.
“They are well aware of what the fate of an ICC event would be without India. The amount in question is very minor when compared to the overall stakes involved in staging of ICC events. This is nothing but an attempt to corner BCCI, on legal grounds,” said another BCCI official.
Regardless of who wins the rescheduling tussle, postponements will make for a cramped white ball calendar. ICC will stage three world events—T20 World Cup 2021 and 2022 and the 50-over World Cup 2023—in 18 months. And if IPL is held in October-November, it would be mean another edition in 2021 in five months.
How will this impact commercially? “From the USD 1.9Bn revenue for cricket in 2019, an estimated 72% came from broadcast. Sponsorships contributed 20% and match day ticketing/hospitality was around 8%. Although broadcast revenue is a very important part of any sport worldwide, dependence for cricket seems more pronounced,” Sundar Raman, former IPL COO, has said in a research paper.
Industry experts and BCCI officials admit off-the-record that cricket without crowds and a lot of it packed together could result in renegotiations but it’s unlikely that long-term commercial partners will be shortchanged.