Sunday, March 22, 2009

IPL moving to South Africa? Crisis meet today

The Indian Premier League (IPL) may be headed for South Africa, following the governing council tiring of no definite response from the government on whether the tournament can be held from next month or not.
Some IPL officials also feel there is no point in antagonising the government beyond a point. “No one wants to keep taking on the establishment. This matter is increasingly becoming a poll issue, and we want to stay away from politics,” a top Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) official said. Another said that if the IPL did move, it would be a one-off affair and it would remain “Indian in character”.

Following a teleconference among key IPL officials on Saturday, an emergency meeting of the BCCI working committee was called on Sunday in Mumbai. One of the proposals, among several alternatives that could be considered, is expected to be the move to South Africa.

Franchise owners were sounded out about this on Saturday and are likely to meet with IPL-BCCI officials after the Sunday meeting. “It’s not the best solution, but it’s better than not holding the event,” a franchise official told Hindustan Times.

"In terms of logistics, it will not hit either the IPL or the teams too much. IMG — the company that manages the IPL — has an office in Johannesburg. Flying players and officials to South Africa will be the biggest expenditure,” a team owner said. But the IPL is expected to subsidise all parties and work out a revenue-sharing deal.

Though both IPL and Cricket South Africa (CSA) officially denied the move, sources said IPL chief Lalit Modi had had informal talks with CSA chief Gerald Majola. Reports from South Africa said cricketers’ association chief Tony Irish confirmed the talks.

A South African official told HT that a meeting between IPL officials — reportedly already en route to South Africa — and CSA was expected in Johannesburg on Sunday.

Reports indicated that CSA would not be averse to hosting the event, not just because of the revenue but also because it would show that South Africa was capable of hosting an international event.

Next year’s football World Cup, due to be held in South Africa, has been plagued by doubts over whether the crime-ravaged country is safe. A successful IPL could silence critics.

The three-and-a-half hour time difference between South Africa and India could work to the IPL’s advantage. They might start games early evening South Africa time to coincide with prime time in India.

It is believed that 12 venues in South Africa could be made available, with the northern part of the country preferred because of better weather conditions.

If the tournament does move, it is expected to start around the third week of April, after the end of the South Africa-Australia one-day series.

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