IPL Franchises’ Wish To Play Friendlies Outside India To Be Discussed

New Delhi: The dream of Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises to head to countries like the US and promote the game is set to be discussed at the IPL Governing Council meeting at the BCCI HQ in Mumbai on Tuesday. While Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad have supposedly already made their interest known to the board, Delhi Capitals also is open to the idea, as per sources in the BCCI.

Speaking to IANS, sources in the know of developments said that MI had in fact proposed the idea of playing friendlies to the Committee of Administrators (CoA) but that had been turned down and the fact that discussing IPL friendlies is listed in the agenda of Tuesday’s meeting is a very positive sign.

“Mumbai Indians’ idea was to promote brand IPL and the game in the US and also to develop a new market for the game. The team would have headed to the US and also play a few games with local teams so as to attract cricket lovers in the region and get them up close and personal with their favourite stars.

“In fact, MI was also keen to share any revenue earned in the process. The IPL clause says that if you as a franchise play outside of the tournament, any revenue earned is to be shared. MI had no problem with that as the idea was to take the game to more homes and increase the fan base,” the source said.

“MI even asked the CoA to provide the window as per their suitability. Playing local matches would popularise the sport as we all know that cricket is not followed much there and also, there are many Indians there and the franchise wanted to go and experiment and see how they can give back to the game.”

A senior official of another franchise which is keen on the move said that they don’t wish to have the Indian stars available as the idea is to build a strong fan base and make those outside India feel a connect with their cities back home.

“There were questions on the availability of the national team players and we said that we don’t want them. We do realise that releasing them isn’t an option because of the tight schedule and the workload on them. But we aren’t looking at them. We are happy to have the local domestic players. We wish to expand the reach of not just our franchises, but also the IPL. Hoping things will move towards this path under the new regime as we don’t really see anything wrong in this.

“Even teams like Manchester United and Barcelona go on foreign tours to play pre-season friendlies. Keeping our fingers crossed now that the new officials have come in,” he pointed.

Asked about the proposal, a BCCI official said: “We are told the franchises were told that if there are more than two requests we will discuss the matter and we now have 3.5 teams to be fair, so let’s see what comes out of the meeting on this point.”

It will be interesting to see how things stand after Brijesh Patel (set to be officially appointed IPL Chairman on Tuesday) and his team meet in Mumbai and discuss the request put in by the franchises.