South Africa played host to the IPL in 2009. (Getty Images)
With the dates of the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the general elections set to clash, it was widely anticipated that the Twenty20 league would have to be moved out of India, and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde has indicated this will be the case. South Africa is now the favourite to host at least a part of the cash-rich tournament.
Shinde told IBN-7 that this year’s IPL would have to be moved out of India. “IPL will not be held in India this year. Due to the elections, it will be difficult to provide adequate security for the IPL matches,” he said.
Shinde, who met top BCCI representatives - BCCI vice-president Rajeev Shukla and IPL chairman Ranjib Biswal - on Thursday during the Parliament session, said it would be "tough to provide adequate security for IPL matches" during the general elections.
Reacting to the development, Biswal told IBN-7 that meetings would be held with the IPL Governing Council [GC] and BCCI to decide on an alternative venue.
The Home Ministry is reported to have informed the BCCI that IPL-7 could be staged in the country only after May 11, NDTVSports.com reported, adding that the first month of the cash-rich tournament will most likely be played in South Africa.
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Top BCCI and IPL officials have hinted at South Africa being the stand-by venue for a major part of this year’s IPL. There has also been the suggestion that Sri Lanka, Bangladesh or the UAE may also host some matches.
"We are in constant touch with franchises; we have taken them into confidence in the last two days and we held a series of meetings with them. We have made our stand clear. They appreciated our concerns and they have given us cooperation on this matter," Biswal had said last week.
A Mail Today report earlier this week said that team owners were against moving the first half of the IPL to the Gulf and instead preferred South Africa as the alternative venue for this year’s edition.
“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,” an official of one of the IPL teams had told Mail Today.
“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.
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.
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The BCCI is expected to invite quotations from Cricket South Africa and the cricket board in the UAE, a Mumbai Mirror report said, adding the Indian board will also seek presentations from the two boards on how they wish to stage the tournament. A final decision will then be taken after the IPL Governing Council meeting in Bhubaneswar on February 28.
The GC meeting will be immediately followed by the all-powerful working committee meeting which is expected to ratify the GC's decision.
"We will ask the UAE board and CSA to tell us their plans for the IPL. We will take a final call on February 28," Sanjay Patel, the secretary of the BCCI, told Mumbai Mirror.
The BCCI has kept a window from April 9 to June 3 for IPL-7.
"We've been told that forces will have to be moved to different parts of the country and it will not be possible for the government to help us in this matter. The central and state security forces will be spared after and before the elections," Patel said.
The IPL had been shifted to South Africa in 2009 because of security concerns posed by general elections that year.
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