Mumbai: Season 2 of the Indian Premier League (IPL) will start as planned on 10 April and conclude on 24 May, but with a rejigged match schedule and a 10-fold increase in its security budget, following concerns about possible terror attacks.
The revised schedule will be released in a few days after organizers receive written approval from all states hosting the matches, IPL chairman Lalit Modi said at a press conference here on Tuesday. “Three states have given us their acceptance in writing. I’m expecting the other five states also to approve our plans in a day or two.”
Game plan: IPL’s Lalit Modi. Rajanish Kakade / AP
The schedule had to be revised to avoid a clash of dates with the five-phase general election that begin on 16 April, six days after IPL’s opener in Mumbai, and to avoid overstretching paramilitary troops who will provide security for both the polls and the tournament.
Security concerns were heightened by a terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in the Pakistani city of Lahore this month.
Players and officials have openly expressed reservations about playing in the subcontinent following the Lahore attack, but Modi said that “no foreign players have contacted us, directly or indirectly” to voice any concern about security arrangements.
The attack, however, played a major role in forcing IPL organizers to undertake a detailed assessment of security cover. The security budget has been increased 10 times, Modi said. Centralized security for the event, audiences and the players will be overseen by security agency Nicholls Steyn and Associates, which will work closely with all state authorities.
“Security is paramount for us. Players, officials and fans are all very important,” Modi said. “Players’ security was the responsibility of the teams last year, but this time we have gone venue by venue managing the security centrally. Of course we will coordinate with the teams.”
Elaborating on the security plan, Modi said, “From the minute a (foreign) player lands here to the minute he leaves India, from the minute an Indian player enters the hotel to the minute he leaves, we will be managing the security.“
Two venues—Ahmedabad and Visakhapatnam—have been added to the eight cities that staged IPL matches in the inaugural event last year, while the town of Dharamsala may also stage some games. “Some matches are being moved from the home base of teams to adjust the blackout dates due to elections,” said Modi.
According to figures provided by IPL, contracted revenue for the league are now in excess of Rs10,790 crore—an increase of Rs1,725 crore from last year. This number could rise if IPL’s governing council reverses a ban on political advertising during match telecasts as well as in-stadium promotions and team sponsorships.
However, Modi maintained that no decision had been taken to lift the ban imposed by the IPL governing council on airing political ads during the match telecasts.
Beyond this, tenders have been put out for screening of matches in multiplexes and the partner will be announced on Thursday, said Modi. Audiences will be able to watch matches of the day in theatres, except when a match is being played live in that particular city. The cricket commentary will also be available in multiple language feeds, expanding the reach of the event.
AFP and PTI contributed to this story.