IPL franchises opposed moving to Middle East, preferred South Africa

IPL teams were not in favour of playing in venues like Sharjah due to its shady past.


New Delhi:
The decision of the Indian Premier League Governing Council to nominate South Africa as the alternate venue for this year’s edition was taken after franchises expressed their displeasure at the possible shifting of the tournament to the Middle East.

There has been a lot of discussion between the GC and team owners on this matter since there is a big possibility that security will be an issue as the tournament coincides with the general election.

It has now come to light that team owners were against moving the first half of the IPL to the Gulf.

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Going into last week’s auction, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka or Bangladesh were thought to be in the running if the IPL had to be shifted.

While the Sri Lanka and Bangladesh got into the Indian Board’s bad books by opposing the ICC revamp plans, considered a brainchild of BCCI president N Srinivasan, it was quite surprising that the Middle East was even in contention as it is perceived to have a history of fixing controversies — a major reason for India not playing there for a long time.

After Justice Mukul Mudgal submitted a scathing report to the Supreme Court, indicting former Chennai Super Kings team principal Gurunath Meiyappan for allegedly leaking information to bookies — it would have been a backward step in a bid to cleanse the image of the tournament.

Hence, the owners felt that moving to South Africa would be the better option.

“The BCCI has been really cooperative and took note of our concerns with regard to the venue of IPL-VII. While we did have several rounds of discussion, they were all constructive and there was no question of any stubbornness or arrogance,” an official of one of the IPL teams told Mail Today.

“Playing in India is our first choice. But if security is an issue, we need to move out for the first half and that is when we jointly decided on South Africa. We felt moving to the Middle East was not the right option at this point of time. It is not that we have anything against the venue, but going by history, the IPL definitely doesn’t need any more controversy."

“We are all working towards refurbishing the image of the IPL and feel this decision serves our interest best. Also, the fact that we have had a successful hosting of the IPL in South Africa in 2009 makes matters easier from a logistics point of view,” the official said.

However, the confirmation in this matter will only come after discussion with the government.

“As of now, 95 per cent we are moving to the Rainbow Nation. But we are still keeping our fingers crossed and hoping the IPL will be held in India and we will get the go-ahead from the government.”

An official with another team said that hosting the tournament in two parts — first half in South Africa and the business end in India — wouldn’t be an issue.

“The GC is set to inform us about the venue on February 21 after meeting the ministry officials. I think if security is an issue, it is better to host the IPL in two parts rather than compromising on the safety of players,” he told Mail Today.

“The GC appreciates our concerns and has decided to compensate us on the expenses incurred in moving base to South Africa. Also, as discussed in the meeting, there will be a five-day gap as teams shift back from South Africa to India, so I see no problems whatsoever,” the official added.

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Yahoo Cricket | Photo by BCCI
Sat 13 Apr, 2013 8:30 PM IST

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