No sooner has the dust settled on this year’s tournament but ambitious plans to expand the IPL are already in train. And they are likely to be discussed further by the BCCI once the Diwali festival is over.
According to online reports, it is likely that two new franchises may be added, although in a staggered manner due to the short time frame before the next tournament is due to start. That will mean an expansion of the league to nine teams in 2021, with a further franchise added in 2022.
Nor will there be any shortage of bidders, with several large Indian industrial groups such as the Tatas and the Adana Group - keen to grab a slice of the action by owning their own IPL franchise.
Expanding the league though has major implications in terms of the number o games played, and, by inference, the length of the tournament. IPL 2020 consisted of 60 games and lasted nearly seven weeks, even with double headers played at weekends. Adding one more franchise would increase the number of games to 76; adding two would make it 90.
The cricketing calendar for the next two years is already very congested, with z number of series held over from this year still to be played. Shoe-horning extra games into this timeframe will be a logistical challenge and pose a potential clash with some players international commitments.
Replacing international stars with domestic players is not a solution they do not have the same box office appeal.
Nevertheless, the commercial value of the IPL is indisputable, and it is by far the richest cricketing event in the world. Last year the consultancy firm Duff & Phelps valued the IPL at US $6 billion and expanding it would help increase that value further.
IOL 2020 has been judged a success as well, despite the fact that its fate seemed in the balance for a long time due to the pandemic. Despite the switch to the UAE and the absence of crowds, it drew large viewing figures across India and abroad.
If the health situation in India has not approved by the time the next tournament is due to start- late March to early April then another switch to the Middle East cannot be ruled out.