The Rajasthan Royals and the Chennai Super Kings have been suspended from the league for two years due to officials from the sides being found guilty of illegal betting and match-fixing.
Now that the dust has begun to settle on Rajendra Lodha’s verdict, it’s time to consider the future for the richest cricket league in the world.
There are a few options which the BCCI will have to mull over prior to the ninth edition due to be held next spring.
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Stick with six sides
The first, and most obvious option, would be to play the league with just the remaining teams (Delhi Daredevils, Kolkata Knight Riders, King’s XI Punjab, Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad), which would seem to be pretty easy.
The problem is that the BCCI owe a large amount of their income to TV revenue, and have already sold rights to many broadcasters promising 60 cricket matches.
If the same schedule was applied for a six team league, only 34 contests would be played resulting in a loss of income for the BCCI and the need to re-negotiate TV rights with a lot of broadcasters.
There would also we two squads worth of players needing new teams, meaning more young players would miss out on game time to test themselves. This is a major problem, as the IPL has brought through many young players who’ve gone on to play internationally. A six team league would limit opportunity to do this.
Open up two slots
Another possibility is that the governing body of cricket could offer multi-millionaires the chance to invest in their own franchise and begin from scratch, taking the abandoned players with them.
This could work, as many Bollywood stars have declared interest in owning sides, following the lead of Shah Rukh Khan. Again there are problems with this idea: the two banned clubs (CSK and RR) are only banned for two years, so if two new teams start and then the old two sides rejoined again in 2018 the league would be up to ten teams.
This would mean they would struggle to fit the tournament inside the six and a half week time slot allocated to it, as well as a dilemma for the players who transferred from banned franchise to new ones. Where would they stand? Again, this is wrought with problems.
Run the franchises differently
The Royals and the Super Kings are only banned from the league under current ownership: if there were different owners they would be able to participate as normal. The teams could be sold by the BCCI in order to ensure they could participate, with the previous owners out of the way they would be given the all clear to play.
Perhaps an unlikely option would be for the BCCI to run the sides in-house for two years until the owners are legally allowed to own franchises again, but the chances of this happening are slim due to the cost of owning a franchise. Despite this, it gives the best chance of the clubs genuinely operating above board for at least two years.
What will really happen then?
All we really know is that IPL cannot run without eight teams. CSK and RR are two of the most successful teams in the tournament’s history and losing players like MS Dhoni, Steve Smith, Brendan McCullum and more would hit the tournament’s revenue too dearly for it to be viable. We can only wait to see whether these teams will be resurrected.