Scheduling issues continue to plague the 2021 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), which is tentatively set to be held from April to June this year. The tournament will be held in India itself unlike the 2020 edition that took place entirely in the UAE. However, the original plan was for the group stages of the tournament to be held in two cities – Pune and Mumbai, before the play-offs and final was set to be played in Ahmedabad. However the BCCI has now come up with a new arrangement and has shortlisted six cities – Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Kolkata – to host the tournament, according to a report in The Times of India.
The idea has reportedly not gone down very well with franchises, given the fact that the previous editon of the tournament was held seamlessly but only involved three venues being used.
“Obviously, it’s scary. The earlier idea of hosting it in one or two cities sounded far better. After all, the 2020 edition was conducted between three venues and it went well,” a franchise representative said.
There are also seemingly issues about the lack of clarity with regards to the plans being made and franchise owners and representatives will need to be brought into the loop sooner rather than later.
“Franchises had started preparing, thinking it was only going to be between Mumbai and Pune, with the playoffs in Ahmedabad. Those plans change now. Franchises will want to know more and that will happen soon,” other sources told TOI.
One thing seems certain: the home and away format that was present only on paper during the previous edition of the tournament will make a return, as bio-secure bubbles will have to be set up across all the venues.
“The format of the tournament will not change. It’s the same home-and-away format, with each team hosting seven and travelling for the other seven. That’ll mean a total of 60 matches, like it is conducted every year. The grouping of teams is only to ensure that preparing bio-secure bubbles becomes easier and there’s less confusion,” sources told the newspaper.
However, there remains no clarity on whether or not fans will be allowed. Matches in Mumbai will be held behind closed doors due to the upsurge of cases in Maharashtra.
Other venues could yet allow fans into the stadium but only up to 50% of the capacity so as to maintain social distancing norms.