Empty stadiums should be the last resort: IPL franchises divided over hosting IPL 2020 behind closed doors

Empty stadiums should be the last resort: IPL franchises divided over hosting IPL 2020 behind closed doors

Recently, BCCI President Sourav Ganguly had asked the state associations to work on all possible options to host the IPL this year.

Rohit Sharma and MS Dhoni
Rohit Sharma and MS Dhoni. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

The sporting world is set to undergo many changes in the post-coronavirus world. Along with the saliva ban and player replacements, empty stadiums might be the new normal for every cricket fan. Many cricket fanatics, at least for a while, will have to witness the sporting action from home due to the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

India has been grappling with the COVID-19 outbreak since the past few months and the positive cases across the nation have almost touched 3 lakh. Considering the stern situation, the much-awaited IPL 2020 will most likely be hosted in empty stadiums, given the tournament takes place in the latter stage of the year.

Recently, BCCI President Sourav Ganguly had asked the state associations to work on all possible options to host the IPL this year, even if it means in empty stadiums. However, the idea of hosting matches in empty stadiums has left the IPL franchise owners divided.

KKR CEO Venky Mysore bats for the idea of hosting IPL 2020 in empty stadiums

Many franchise owners have come forward in support of the idea. Kolkata Knight Riders CEO and MD, Venky Mysore said that the decision is appropriate considering the COVID-19 situation in the country.

“Firstly, the primary focus will be the health & safety of all concerned – fans, players, support staff & everyone involved. So detailed protocol has been developed for that. Secondly, if & when the IPL 2020 season takes place, we all understand that it will be without fans and spectators in the stadium.

So everyone is not only prepared for that but also believe it is appropriate given the risks of the pandemic. However, there are many creative ideas being curated by leveraging technology that will come as a pleasant surprise to fans and the players,” said Mysore as quoted by Times Now.

Delhi Capitals CEO, Dhiraj Malhotra, also echoed Venky’s opinion and said that it’s the only option for any sport right now.

“It seems like the only option at the moment. It will still be profitable as gate money is only 15-20% of our entire revenue. It won’t be the same without fans, everyone can agree on it, but it’s the only option for any sport right now,” said Malhotra.

However, according to sources within Chennai Super Kings and Kings XI Punjab, the franchises want ‘hosting matches in empty stadiums’ to be the last resort for the BCCI. The franchises are hoping that since there has been a lot of back and forth on the commencement of IPL already, now there needs to be complete transparency. Empty stadiums should be embraced only when absolutely necessary, according to these franchises.