Plans are afoot to resume cricket amidst the coronavirus pandemic but fans will have to stay away from the stadiums for the foreseeable future as part of containment measures.
The natural implication of barring entry of fans into venues means empty chairs, eerie silence and absence of atmosphere. It also means no gate money either which affects overall revenue.
For BCCI, the amount when compared to its overall earnings from a match/series might be smaller, still it’s extremely important as a lion’s share of it is spent on maintaining infrastructure.
“Not just the IPL, it’s also about the international cricket that we play. Gate money albeit being a smaller amount of our overall revenue but it is extremely important because the bulk of it goes in the maintenance and upkeep of the stadiums,” BCCI CEO Rahul Johri said during a webinar.
He continued, “Infrastructure needs to be kept ready and in good health, for which gate money is a criteria. However, in short term, as we head for normalcy, it is something one can live without but ultimately, it’s an important piece.”
While the focus might be on IPL and international cricket, BCCI is also dealing with the logistics involved in chalking out its domestic calendar too. The board organises nearly 2000 matches every season spread across the country in all age groups and managing that in the backdrop of the lockdown restrictions may prove to be a herculean effort.
“Domestic cricket is the bedrock of Indian cricket. What people don’t realise is that we conduct over 2,000 games over a span of six months. In today’s world, changing scenario, the scheduling of domestic cricket needs to be completely relooked at,” Johri said.
Johri said safety of players and support staff is of paramount importance.
“Today, there is a team that can travel 50km to play a match or 3,000 km to play a match because every team plays home and away. In such times, when travel is restricted, the safety of players and support staff is of paramount importance, how do you conduct these leagues? How do you look at it? It is a discussion that we will have and interesting options need to come up. Innovation will be the key in this,” he said.