IPL franchisees are concerned over the effect the spread of coronavirus could have over the footfall at the cricket stadium this season.

Should the panic over the outbreak of coronavirus spread, it will potentially impact the gate money which is a major source of income for the teams. While BCCI president Sourav Ganguly has confirmed that the season will go ahead despite the threat, the issue of fall in income has become a major talking point among the owners.

“Between now and March 29 (when IPL starts), there are about three weeks left,” a senior franchise executive told The Times of India. “The answer to this question depends on how these three weeks pass. If a newspaper headline tells me in the morning that Coronavirus is spreading, then it’s going to play on my mind. I will not want to see myself entering a cricket stadium with large crowds. So, yes, it’s a worry right now but, time will tell.”

Ahead of the season, the board announced reduction in the IPL playoffs prize money by 50 per cent following which the team owners have decided to write to Ganguly for relief. Apart from that, the hosting fee has been increased to 50 lakh per game from 30 lakh which has exacerbated the situation.

With the gate money a vital source of income, owners are worried about how they will recover their expenses should the coronavirus impact the season. “…that’s Rs3.5 cr for seven home games. Add that to the expenditure incurred in the setting up of a venue ahead of a season and ahead of every match. Then, there’s a separate fee that needs to be paid for security for every game. There are several miscellaneous expenses incurred,” the English Daily quoted another franchise official as saying.

“Gate money, in-stadia branding, merchandising, hospitality these are few avenues from where those expenses can be recovered. If panic spreads and stays, it certainly will have a cascading effect on the whole thing,” the official added.

Reportedly, neither the players nor the team owners have raised any concern regarding the coronavirus threat despite it impacting several global sporting events.