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Will IPL become world's biggest sporting league? Here's what new chairman Arun Dhumal feels

The IPL is the world's most popular T20 domestic league and the second-most popular after the ICC T20 World Cup. But will it become the most prominent sporting league in the world? Here's what new IPL chairman Arun Dhumal feels.

Will IPL Indian Premier League become world's biggest sporting league? Here is what new chairman Arun Dhumal feels-ayh
First Published Nov 8, 2022, 4:15 PM IST

New Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman Arun Dhumal sees cricket's premier T20 tournament becoming the most significant sporting league in the world in the next five years and says the board also has a clear vision for Women's IPL. Speaking to PTI, Dhumal talked about his long-term plans for the IPL, why there can't be more than ten teams and why the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will stick to its longtime stance on not allowing the Indian players to take part in overseas leagues. IPL has become the second most valued sporting league globally in terms of per-match value after the media rights for the 2023-2027 cycle fetched a staggering ₹48,390 crore.

Though it has a much shorter window compared to football leagues like the English Premier League (EPL) or the National Football League (NFL) in the United States of America (USA), the IPL is likely to have a two-and-a-half month-exclusive window comprising a maximum of 94 games with ten teams. Dhumal said constant innovation is the need of the hour, and there is no reason IPL can't become the most significant sporting league worldwide.

"The IPL will be much bigger than what it is and will be the number one sports league in the world," Dhumal told PTI when asked how the BCCI plans to raise the bar for the crown jewel of Indian cricket. Fans have contributed most to what the IPL has become, and Dhumal said plans are in place to improve their viewing experience substantially.


"We are looking at various innovations that can be brought to make it more fan-friendly. For those who are watching it on TV and those who are experiencing it at the stadium, we want them to have a better experience. If we can make the IPL schedule well in advance, people worldwide can plan their travel accordingly. It should be a value-for-money experience for the fans," Dhumal said.

'Teams will stay at ten only'
The BCCI mopped up over ₹12,000 crore by adding two new teams to the competition, but it is doubtful that the number will go beyond 10, said the IPL boss. A total of 74 games were held this season, and in the new cycle, the number of matches could go up to 94 with existing teams.

"Teams will stay at ten only. If you increase that, it becomes difficult to have the tournament in one go. We are looking at 74 games, to begin with, for the first two seasons, then 84, and if things permit, maybe 94 in the fifth year of the media rights cycle. That would make it a long enough event. We can't compare ourselves to football and other sporting leagues worldwide, as the requirement in cricket is different. You can't play on the same pitches for six months," said Dhumal.

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'Keeping players' well-being in mind, BCCI will keep them away from other leagues
The mushrooming T20 competitions have pressured the BCCI to release its sought-after players for overseas tournaments. The IPL owners have bought all six teams in the all-new South Africa league and understandably want some Indian presence in the competition.

Referring to contract and non-contracted India players, Dhumal said the BCCI has no plans to change its existing policy of preserving its players amid a hectic calendar. "This, in principle, is the decision of BCCI that our contracted players can't go and play for other leagues. As it is, there is so much cricket happening. Keeping in mind their overall well-being, that decision has been taken. As of now, we will stick to that decision. Even the non-contracted ones are aspiring to play for India," he said.

However, the BCCI is very open to IPL teams' longstanding request to take the tournament overseas by staging a few exhibition games. "With the Indian diaspora all across the globe, we would want to increase the reach of this tournament further, but it has to be rightly timed," reckoned Dhumal.

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"That is very important. We will evaluate it and take it overseas when the time is right. The international FTP is so tight that player availability needs to be looked at before taking a call on that," Dhumal said before wishing the two new leagues in South Africa and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) the "very best".

'Women's IPL will be a world-class property'
The inaugural WIPL will be held next year with five teams in March, but the sale of sides has yet to be conducted. There is plenty of interest in buying sides, and there is the possibility that they operate out of smaller centres in India.

"The way we are planning for this Women's IPL is that we will have a new set of fans joining the game. Many female fans have added to the IPL fan base, and this tournament will only add to that; many more would want to take up the sport as a profession. That was the idea behind announcing equal pay (for women Indian cricketers). Fans should make it to the stadium in large numbers whether we have the WIPL in rural areas or main city centres. We will evaluate that and take a call soon," Dhumal said.

On revenue projection for the tournament, Dhumal added: "We are creating a new property, and it has to be world-class. We are not bothered about the numbers. We are working on making it one of the world's best women's cricket tournaments. What we did in the IPL, we want to do something similar with WIPL."

(With inputs from PTI)

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