The BCCI is expected to take a final call during its annual general meeting on Thursday.
The IPL will dominate the agenda of the BCCI annual general meeting on Thursday, with the tournament likely to expand to ten teams from 2022. The 2021 season, due to start in April, could stick with eight teams or have a ninth, depending on logistical issues being worked out.
In early December the BCCI informed its state associations that one of the key items on the AGM agenda would be the “approval” of two new IPL teams.
In the past such a proposal would have been deliberated by the IPL Governing Council, but this time the BCCI top brass comprising its president Sourav Ganguly, secretary Jay Shah and treasurer Arun Dhumal, along with the IPL chief operating officer Hemang Amin, have had discussions in private.
At the AGM, which will be held in Ahmedabad, the BCCI will seek approval from its members, the state associations, on one of the options after giving them a presentation of the pros and cons of each option.
Paucity of time along with the complexities of conducting the tournament during the Covid-19 pandemic are the two main deterrents the BCCI has recognised against adding two new teams in 2021 itself. With the next edition of the IPL scheduled for an April start, the BCCI has just four months to achieve several targets if two new teams are to be added.
First, the BCCI would need to issue a tender to invite bidders to buy the two new franchises. It would also need to list a set number of cities around India for the bidders to pick their home base from. That would be followed by a mega auction where all 10 franchises would build their squads. Even before that the existing eight franchises would need to be told how many players they could retain including the combination of Indian and overseas players.
The other significant challenge for the BCCI concerning the 2021 IPL is that it is yet to finalise the venue for the tournament. Right now India remains the preferred choice. However the BCCI would still keep a back-up venue like the UAE in mind in case it cannot create a biosecure bubble for the multi-team tournament in India, which has gone past the 10-million mark for total Covid-19 cases, the second-highest globally.
While the majority of the eight existing franchises would prefer the 2021 IPL to not have any additional teams for different reasons, the state associations don’t mind either way. A few state associations favour a nine-team IPL from 2021 and would consider a tenth team in the future. Either way that would entail the BCCI conducting a mega auction.
In normal circumstances a mega auction was scheduled before the 2021 IPL. The IPL conducts a mega auction every three years with the last one held in 2018. In case the BCCI does not add any new team for the 2021 edition it would only conduct a mini auction, which would allow the current eight franchises to retain the bulk of their squads and only make alterations and additions to them.