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May 11, 2014
The Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) has registered a strong protest against the IPL governing council's decision to move the 2014 final from the Wankhede Stadium to the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. In a letter to IPL authorities signed by its president Sharad Pawar, the MCA has asked for reasons for the "sudden decision" to take the final away from Mumbai.
ESPNcricinfo understands the letter will be placed before the IPL governing council during its next meeting and a decision on whether an explanation needs to be given to the MCA will be made. What is certain at the moment is that there are no second thoughts about having moved the final to Bangalore.
In the opening season of the IPL in 2008, the second most expensive franchise -Bangalore - was awarded the opening ceremony, while the final was given to the most expensive franchise - Mumbai. Since then, the practice has been for the defending champions to host the opening ceremony and the final, and the runner-up to host the other playoffs.
While announcing the change of venues on May 10, the IPL governing council said the decision to hold the playoffs in four cities was due to part of the tournament being played in the UAE this season.
"Considering that twenty matches of the ongoing Pepsi IPL season were played overseas, the GC [governing council] took a decision to try and take the Playoffs to as many different stadia as possible. Several venues had expressed their interest in hosting the Playoffs," BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel said.
The reasons being given by the IPL for taking the final away from Mumbai are several, but none of them mention the possibility of tension between the MCA and BCCI after Pawar criticised the board for suspending the Rajasthan Cricket Association following Lalit Modi's election as its president.
The issues with the Wankhede as the final venue stem from when security officials left the acting BCCI president Sunil Gavaskar and IPL chairman Ranjib Biswal stranded at the stadium's gate for a prolonged period on May 3, the first match of the season in Mumbai. They were there to attend a meeting at the BCCI's headquarters, which are in the stadium's premises. The incident was said to be a repeat of one in 2012, when BCCI president N Srinivasan was kept waiting for an hour on an IPL match-day before being allowed to enter.
Once Gavaskar and Biswal were allowed to enter, they could not park their cars in the stadium. The IPL governing council called it a "major administrative glitch", but MCA officials said they would have made the necessary arrangements had they been informed of the arrival of many dignitaries in advance.
Another reason not in the Wankhede's favour was the Maharashtra government's decision not to burst firecrackers after 10pm, and the high cost charged by local police for providing security. Since the playoffs are BCCI property, the expenses are not borne by the franchises. Mumbai Police have been charging INR 50 lakh per match, while Bangalore Police charge INR 20 lakh.
The MCA officials said they would have tried their best to negotiate with state government authorities had they been told about the issues. "One meeting with Pawar and the state government could have made an exception and allowed the customary celebration with firecrackers around midnight after the final," an official said. "And perhaps the police charges could also be brought down."
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