Indian government's approval is being sought to hold the Indian Premier League, the world’s richest cricket tournament, in the UAE from September, the league chairman has confirmed.
The postponement of the Twenty20 World Cup until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic has opened the way for the suspended IPL, which the Board of Control for Cricket in India wants to bring it back in the window from September until early November.
“It will be held in the UAE but first the board will seek permission from the Indian government to stage it there,” Brijesh Patel told AFP.
This year's IPL was postponed in March.
The IPL has become the main source of revenue for BCCI since 2008. It has said it would lose more than $500 million if this year’s tournament had not gone ahead.
The seven-week extravaganza, which normally plays to packed stadiums across the country of 1.3 billion people, is estimated to generate more than $11 billion for the Indian economy.
With international-standard ovals each in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai – as well as the country’s oldest cricket venue, in Sharjah, the UAE is well-placed to offer bio-secure solutions – assuming there are no fans in attendance.
IPL franchises are already said to be planning the logistics of travel to the UAE, as well as hotel bookings. Dubai Sports Council – in co-operation with Dubai Police – have undertaken studies into the possibility of fans attending, although it looks unlikely at this stage.
The general secretary of the Emirates Cricket Board, Mubashshir Usmani, has confirmed they will "extend full support to" the IPL if they do opt to switch the tournament to UAE.
““There will be some pre-requisites and a plan will be created to follow the protocols of the government. Each council will be approached to take the necessary permissions. It is all at an early stage to comment. We have heard there are dates being considered from September to November. There is still time on that.
“Considering the numbers of Covid cases in UAE is going down, and the situation is becoming more relaxed, we are hopeful that if the BCCI does come to us, at that time we will be one of the safest destinations in the world.”
The UAE has hosted IPL in 2014 when the first 20 matches of that schedule were played here because the league coincided with holding elections in India at a massive scale.
A host of international stars including England’s Ben Stokes and Australia’s Steve Smith and David Warner are signed up for the eight teams.
Australia’s Pat Cummins will be the most expensive overseas star this year, signing up with Kolkata Knight Riders for a $2.17 million fee in a December auction.