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Need to hold IPL 2020, and important role of BCCI in world cricket post-Covid highlighted in discussion on 'Impact on Business of Cricket'

The need to organise the 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) by adhering to safety standards as prescribed by the government, and the important role that BCCI needs to play in ensuring the survival of world cricket was emphasised by eminent panellists during a discussion on the "Impact on Business of Cricket" as part of the #SportsPostLockdown webinar series.

The third episode of the webinar series, which focused on 'Impact on Business of Cricket', was held on Wednesday, May 27, with participation from Joy Bhattacharjya, CEO, Pro Volleyball League, Dhiraj Malhotra, CEO, Delhi Capitals, and Yannick Colaco, Co-Founder, Fancode who shared their insights in a session moderated by Ayaz Memon, Consulting Editor, 1Play Sports.

According to Dhiraj Malhotra, "The IPL season needs to organised in whatever form possible, primarily because by conducting the league you are sending the right signal of a sense of normalcy returning to society. The franchise will only lose revenues in the region of 20 to 25 per cent, since the majority of the revenues come in from the BCCI central pool of media rights and sponsorships. We can live with the fact of no fans in the stadium initially and the loss of revenue, since it is more important to get the league running."

Joy Bhattacharjya said that unlike in the past when sports grew from the lower levels post a huge world crisis, in this case, post-pandemic, it will have to be the bigger events that get the action going first. "The top events like the IPL have the money to ensure the safety standards and infrastructural requirements required to conduct an event in the current scenario. Hence it is imperative that sports starts at the top level and moves down to the lower levels."

On whether the T20 World Cup in Australia scheduled in October should be shifted to accommodate the IPL, Bhattacharjya said that it was important for Cricket Australia and the International Cricket Council (ICC) to first decide whether it is possible to organise the WC in October. If it is not possible, then it is clear that there is a window open and then it can be utilised to organise the IPL.

Speaking on the mindset of sponsors during this economic slowdown and their interest levels in partnering with sports, Yannick Colaco said that it was important for the sponsors and the other stakeholders, especially the organisers to sit across the table. "Everyone needs to realise and accept the fact that it is a different reality from what it was just months ago. All parties have to be transparent with each other and reach workable solutions. That is the only way forward."

On the power structure in world cricket and the poor financial state of most cricket boards, Malhotra said: "Apart from the BCCI and ECB, the other boards will find it difficult to survive. The BCCI, along with ICC, needs to probably develop a world calendar for the next one or two years whereby every board can earn enough to survive and grow. The biggest factor will be the role BCCI plays in these discussions, and organising the IPL will also ensure that the other boards earn money through the participation of their players."

With reference to the state of affairs in the business of cricket, Colaco added: "This is a wake-up call for all sports bodies, not just in cricket, that they do not remain dependent on one particular country or board for survival. They need to use this opportunity to work towards building business models which are more sustainable."

The #SportsPostLockdown webinar series is being organised jointly by GainAccess Sports & Entertainment and SportzPower, and powered by Brandaid Events. The inaugural episode focused on "Sports Behind Closed Doors", while the second episode concentrated on "Sports Media Rights & Sponsorship Revenues Impact". In the pipeline are more webinars focusing on key aspects of the fan engagement, growth of esports, and grassroots development, among others.

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