Mumbai: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will stage the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 tournament abroad this year owing to security issues.
“Because the government... are not in a position to provide security, we were forced to take the decision to move the event outside of India,” BCCI president Shashank Manohar said on Sunday.
“We’re having discussions with other boards who have shown their willingness,” he added England and South Africa are being mentioned as possible alternative venues.
BCCI had failed to get government clearance for security cover despite revising the match dates three times because the tournament clashes with the general election, to be held between 16 April and 13 May. IPL will be played on its original dates, between 10 April and 24 May, and is scheduled to return to India next season, league commissioner Lalit Modi said.
The South African cricket board confirmed it had received an official request from BCCI to be a possible host for the event’s second edition.
“We received an official approach this morning to be one of several options they are considering to host the tournament outside India,” Cricket South Africa chief executive Gerald Majola said in a statement. South Africa will also stage the Champions Trophy one-day competition beginning in September.
England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Giles Clarke told BBC Radio Five Live that England would be ready to host the tournament if asked.
“We’ve got a very close and friendly relationship with the BCCI and if they have need... we’d be delighted to help if we can,” he said. International Cricket Council president David Morgan said the decision to move a domestic tournament abroad was “surprising”.
“I have heard rumours it might be staged in South Africa but that is quite surprising news,” Morgan told Five Live. “They have real difficulties with the elections going on in India but I’ve heard nothing officially from the BCCI or the IPL.”
Indian officials said the huge financial implications and a tight international calendar had forced their hand. The World Twenty20 begins in England in early June.
“Under the given circumstances, there is no other period for the conduct of IPL matches,” BCCI said in a statement and apologized to cricket-crazy Indian fans for not being in a position to host the event at home this year.
Security concerns have dominated the build-up to the lucrative eight-team event, involving many big-name international players, after an attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in the Pakistani city of Lahore earlier this month.
BCCI failed to secure approval from the government, which said it would be difficult to spare security forces as they would be deployed for the polls.