The Indian Premier League, which gave cricket-starved viewers the chance to watch some top-class swashbuckling live action on the tube after a gap of more than seven months, is likely to see the addition of two teams for the next edition.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is expected to take a decision on this matter in its forthcoming Annual General Meeting (AGM), scheduled to be held on December 24.
According to a source, while the Adani Group is the frontrunner to bag the Ahmedabad franchise, another franchise is likely to be based in Lucknow or Pune.
"While Ahmedabad is almost set to be taken by the Adani Group, the other franchise will be based out of either Lucknow or Pune. A decision regarding the second franchise is yet to be taken but it will be a toss-up between these two cities for the second franchise if the BCCI decides to add a second team," the source said.
Sandeep Goyal, Chairman, Mogae Media, a marketing and communications agency, said the addition of teams will be beneficial for the sporting ecosystem.
"The ownership of a team in IPL is about bragging rights. Except for Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, the rest of the teams have not been able to build substantial fanbases. However, for the players and former players, it is a positive development as they will be getting lucrative contracts. So, the sporting ecosystem gains," he told Moneycontrol.
Lloyd Mathias, business strategist and veteran marketer, too feels that the addition of two new teams will be a positive development as the tournament’s credentials have been burnished by the eye-popping ratings it achieved.
"The number of matches will increase and it is a good way to enhance the appeal of IPL. Earlier also, the BCCI had tried to increase the number of teams and will ensure more double-headers, which the viewers will lap it up," he told Moneycontrol.
IMPACT ON STAR
For official broadcaster Star, it may not however be a positive development as it would mean forking out additional money even if one team is inducted.
As the number of matches will increase, it may have to shell out over Rs 1,500 crore if two teams are added. According to the current agreement with BCCI for IPL matches involving eight teams, Star pays approximately Rs 50 crore per match.
Moneycontrol reached out to Star India for its comment but there was no response till the time of filing.
Star India snapped up the IPL rights in 2017 for a whopping Rs 16,347.5 crore and a year later, acquired the BCCI rights for Rs 6, 138 crore for a period of five years.
Goyal feels that Star will be facing an arduous task in negotiating its way out of the financial setback.
"The BCCI says there is some clause which sees Star paying extra amount if matches go up. None of us is privy to the contract details. With both parties yet to declare anything officially, it remains to be seen how things are sorted between them. This year, they did not face any problem in selling ad inventory for IPL matches. For the next edition, it will not be an easy job to replicate that performance as the IPL will be held twice in one financial year," he told Moneycontrol.
Mathias, however, said he expects the BCCI and Star to find a middle ground.
"Adding more teams is good for BCCI. It may not however translate into a similar prospect for Star, I think they will have to work out a deal so that Star does not have to bear the brunt of the addition of teams," he said.
He also added that IPL's huge popularity now cannot be questioned by anyone and so even if next year Star has to sell inventory for the T20 World Cup in a sluggish business environment, they will not encounter any problems in selling IPL inventory.
WILL A LONGER IPL BE VIABLE?
A top industry source said the BCCI is in a dialogue with Star on IPL expansion.
"The discussions are underway and a decision on whether the addition of teams will be done in 2021 or 2022 is yet to be taken. The rights of the IPL broadcast will also come up for renewal towards end of 2021 and the big question is whether there is enough time for inducting two teams or conducting a mega auction. Next year, the T20 World Cup will also take place and if the BCCI takes in two extra teams, that would result in additional time needed for the completion of the tournament, which may also lead to a dip in competitiveness because many top international players may not be available," the source told Moneycontrol.