Champions League window remains elusive
Top officials associated with the Champions Twenty20 League will discuss on Friday whether the postponed tournament can be held in early 2009, but the prospects of the inaugural edition being squeezed in a packed international schedule "look dim".
The event, originally due to take place from December 3-10 in India, was put off after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Subsequent discussions among the BCCI, Cricket South Africa and Cricket Australia - the three founding partners - focused on identifying a possible window in January or February with India remaining the hosts.
However, the home and away series between Australia and South Africa, and the concurrent domestic Twenty20 competitions in those countries, have made it virtually impossible to obtain a window. Apparently, those games are locked in and local broadcasters are not keen on a schedule-revision at this stage.
The other hitch is that the BCCI is yet to get a final word from the Indian government on the team's tour of Pakistan, starting January 4. Although the tour looks highly unlikely, given the current political climate in both countries, the absence of a formal decision has meant that there are now too many variables surrounding the Champions League.
In such a scenario, the one possible solution is to push back the tournament's ten-year cycle by a year and hold the inaugural edition in October 2009, during the dates that were identified for the second season. It is understood that there is a provision for such an adjustment in the organisers' arrangement with ESPN-Star Sports (ESS), the broadcasters, though it would mean teams would have to qualify afresh for the tournament.
While officials associated with the tournament insist the final picture will emerge only after the teleconference, an official from one of the participating teams admitted that that he saw "very little hope" of the tournament being held in January or February.
There is US$6 million on offer during the tournament for participating teams, which includes the domestic Twenty20 finalists from India, South Africa and Australia. Middlesex and Sialkot Stallions, the domestic Twenty20 champions from England and Pakistan, were the other teams invited to participate in the first edition. The eight teams were also assured of a participation fee of US$250,000.