BCCI seeking owners for IPL expansion franchises

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has launched a tender process for two new expansion franchises in the Indian Premier League (IPL), with Ahmedabad and Lucknow reported to be the main contenders for the teams.

The Twenty20 League is currently an eight-team competition, but has previously run with 10 franchises and the BCCI has been weighing up expansion for the past two years. The governing body’s annual general meeting signed off on the move in December, with the IPL’s governing council yesterday (Tuesday) inviting bids to acquire the right to own and operate the two franchises.

The Invitation to Tender has been made available for purchase until October 5, with the Times of India newspaper stating that Ahmedabad and Lucknow are expected to be in the box seat for the franchises up for offer.

Ahmedabad is the home of Narendra Modi Stadium, the world’s biggest cricket venue. The Times notes that Lucknow, capital of Uttar Pradesh, also has world-class infrastructure in the form of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Stadium and accounts for more than 50% consumption of live cricket in the country on television.

While the likes of Nagpur, Raipur, Pune, Visakhapatnam and Ranchi are also expected to express interest in the IPL franchise, it is believed it will come down to Ahmedabad and Lucknow. The Times said the new franchises are expected to sell at anywhere between Rs35bn (£348.3m/€405.8m/$479m) and Rs40bn, and will be owned by the winning company/consortium in perpetuity.

The BCCI in July announced that Dubai will host the 2021 IPL final, as it confirmed how the remainder of this year’s tournament will be spread across the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

In May, the BCCI confirmed that the remainder of the competition would take place in the UAE in September and October. The tournament was postponed in early May after a number of players tested positive for COVID-19 amid a rise in cases in India, with 31 matches still outstanding in this year’s edition.

The BCCI said that the decision had been taken to move the tournament to the UAE due to the monsoon season in India in September and October. The remaining 31 matches will now be played in 27 days, with Dubai hosting 13 games, Sharjah 10 and Abu Dhabi eight.

The 14th edition of the IPL will resume on September 19 in Dubai with a clash between Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians. The action will then shift to Abu Dhabi where the Kolkata Knight Riders will face Royal Challengers Bangalore. Sharjah will host its first game on September 24 when Royal Challengers Bangalore take on Chennai Super Kings.

The final game of the league stage will be played between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Capitals on October 8 in Dubai. The 2021 IPL final will take place in Dubai on October 15.