England and South Africa have emerged as the front-runners to host the second season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) after the BCCI decided, following days of inconclusive negotiations with the Indian home ministry and various state governments, to shift the tournament out of India. The venue and new schedule will be announced soon.
Shashank Manohar, the BCCI president, said the tournament had been relocated "because of the extraordinary situation existing this year." The 45-day tournament clashes with the forthcoming general elections in India and there had been concerns over security.
Gerald Majola, Cricket South Africa's chief executive, said South Africa was ready to host the tournament if needed. He expected to have "positive discussions" with Indian officials in this regard over phone on Monday.
The ECB said it had received a request from the Indian board and the IPL and was examining the possibility of hosting the tournament. ECB chairman Giles Clarke told BBC Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek programme he was willing to help his Indian counterparts. "We normally talk to them a great deal and we would be delighted to help again," he said.
Explaining the decision to move out, N Srinivasan, the BCCI general secretary, said the Indian board was not in a position to either play a truncated IPL or to cancel the tournament's second edition. "It is a matter of great regret that, in the prevailing atmosphere, where the government is expressing concern for providing security to the IPL matches, the BCCI is left with no other option but to conduct the IPL in another country," he said.
Manohar said the board considered all aspects of the matter at an emergency meeting. "We are aware that the people of India love this event and have given us great support last year and are eager for this year's event," he said. "We made our best efforts to see that the event takes place in India. However, because of the government's attitude that they cannot provide security, particularly by the states of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, we were forced to take a decision to move the event out of India.
"My apologies to the people of India for not being able to hold the event in India."
Lalit Modi, the IPL commissioner, who was present at the working committee meeting said there will be no changes made to the tournament's format or the schedule. "Dates and timings of the matches will remain the same. The Indian audiences can watch the matches at 4 pm and 8 pm IST as they did in the inaugural season," he said.
He said there was no chance of the final leg of games being played in India. "We explored all possibilities of moving the semi-finals and final to India," Modi said. "But it would have been too exhausting for the players. Players have to go back to England for the World Twenty20 (beginning on June 5)."
However, he refused to speak on the revenue-sharing agreement with the prospective foreign boards and pointed out that the tournament's focus was to provide the best possible entertainment for the Indian fan.
"We are not bothered about the cost factor but the issue is the integrity of the tournament. The issue is holding all 59 matches as scheduled," Modi said.
Manohar also said the BCCI officials would be having a discussion with the eight franchise owners and believed they would not have any objection. "We will hold discussions with the owners. I don't think the franchises would oppose us," he said.
However, the move out of India will not affect players from Pakistan - they still not be allowed to take part. "IPL announced the squads 30 days in advance," Modi said. "No changes are allowed in that. Unfortunately, no Pakistan player will play this year."