I Will be Surprised if IPL 13 is Not The Most Watched Ever: KXIP Owner Ness Wadia
Ness Wadia (© IANS)

Kings XI Punjab co-owner Ness Wadia reckons that people want to watch fresh live sports and he will be surprised if IPL 13 will not become the most watched ever in the league’s 12-year history. On Friday, IPL chairman Brijesh Patel confirmed the September 19-November 8 window for the cash-rich franchise T20 tournament to be played in the UAE.

Wadia was speaking in context of the potential difficulty IPL and its eight teams could face in attracting sponsors in financially turbulent times because of coronavirus pandemic. He feels that since people have been starved of live action, they will latch onto the already popular Indian T20 tournament.

“I would be surprised if this IPL is not the most watched ever,” Wadia was quoted as saying by PTI. “I am talking worldwide and not only India. Therefore, the benefit to sponsors would be tremendous and I am sure they will see it that way. The benefit to them will be more than previous editions considering more people will tune in to watch fresh live sport.”

Strict protocols and health guidelines will be issued to ensure a safe IPL which may include no entry of fans inside the stadiums. Wadia hopes that BCCI will compensate the teams in case the matches are played in empty stadiums.

“The IPL will bring much needed optimism to the pessimism we live in today. Credit to the BCCI to have found a window in the current scenario. I do hope that the BCCI will look at compensating all teams (in case there is no gate money involved),” he said.

Wadia also advised the players/officials be tested every day during the IPL to ensure goes on without any hitch.

“Strict safety protocols have to be put in place both for off-field and on-field activities to make the IPL safe and successful. They should not be compromised at all,” Wadia said. “I would want as much testing as possible and preferably daily. If I was a cricketer, I would be very happy in getting myself tested everyday. There is no harm in it,” he added.

With the confirmation of the window, the eight franchises are now awaiting the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) from the BCCI, which will finalise the logistics in the IPL Governing Council meeting next week.

“Bio-secure is something that should be very seriously considered but don’t know if it can be implemented in an eight-team tournament. We are waiting for the SOPs from the BCCI,” Wadia said.

“UAE also has a very high testing rate (472,575 per million) and they have all the technology at their disposal. The BCCI will need the help of local government in ensuring adequate testing is done,” he added.

He also said IPL can learn from how other sports leagues in the world have continued their seasons.

“From the logistics perspective, we have done IPL in the UAE before. But this time you have to add a lot more protocols. I am sure the BCCI will do the needful. There is also enough knowledge to be gained form football leagues like the EPL on how they are going about their job in COVID times,” he said.