The next edition of the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) will not be a franchise-run affair and, instead, be owned by the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB), following a clash between the board and six of the seven existing team owners, Dhaka Dynamites being the only exception. The update came from Nazmul Hassan, the BCB president, who announced in Dhaka on Wednesday that if franchises were not willing to stick to the rules of the BPL, the board was happy to "take the load of running the BPL" on its own.
"We were supposed to rework the agreements with the franchises this year. We have met them in between, we have had lots of meetings, and they have made a number of demands. But these are in direct conflict with the BPL model we have been working with. It's not possible to accommodate the demands," he said. "Some of them don't want two editions of the BPL in one year [the last one was played in January-February this year, and the next is scheduled to start in December].
"They haven't said they won't play, but they don't want it, because of the pressure of putting it together twice. We have considered everything, and decided to host the next BPL on our own. We won't have franchises."
"Apart from Dhaka Dynamites, everyone wanted the same thing. Shakib left Dhaka, so they couldn't accept it. We all wanted the old rules to stay, that's all" Ishtiaque Sadeque, CEO of Rangpur Riders
ESPNcricinfo understands that the big issue was Shakib Al Hasan, Bangladesh's premier cricketer, opting to sign up with Rangpur Riders earlier this year from Dhaka Dynamites. As such, the franchises had the option of signing four players from outside the player draft, which made Shakib's switch, as well as that of other prominent players Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim, fine. But, it is believed, the Dhaka franchise was not happy about losing its star player, and wanted changes in the rules.
"Apart from Dhaka Dynamites, everyone wanted the same thing. Shakib left Dhaka, so they couldn't accept it," Ishtiaque Sadeque, CEO of Rangpur Riders, told ESPNcricinfo. "We all wanted the old rules to stay, that's all.
"Now the BCB wants to run the BPL like a Dhaka Premier League. That's a joke. We have been spending crores to bring the best players from overseas. Let's see what the BCB do. Wait and watch."
Hassan, however, refused to accept that Shakib's transfer to Rangpur was in accordance with the rules, which have largely been fluid since the tournament began. "You can't get a player from another team if you suddenly want to. That's a basic principle. And Shakib knows this better than anyone else. He plays a lot outside Bangladesh. If he suddenly says he won't play for [Sunrisers] Hyderabad this year and play for Chennai [Super Kings] instead, is that possible? It's not. But in Bangladesh, all this happens. We will put a stop to that."
The battlelines have clearly been drawn, but Hassan was gung-ho about the BCB running the show, somewhat along the lines of the Australian Big Bash League, where Cricket Australia is the owner of the competition.
"BCB will own all the teams. You can compare it to the Big Bash, it will be the same format," Hassan said. "The same teams will be there, but the management will be the BCB's. We will pay all the salaries, we will arrange the hospitality, the travel, everything. I think everyone will be satisfied with this. The team owners who didn't want to play will also be happy. The ones who were worried about losing money will be even happier. They will save all the money.
"I can't say right now if this will be the future. If it's needed, the BCB will remain in charge. We have a set of rules, and we will outline more rules going forward. If someone wants to join, they can. But no one can join the BPL and then refuse to accept the rules."
Hassan also explained that it was crucial from the BCB's point of view to host the next edition of the BPL in December-January, because March 17, 2020 is the birth centenary of 'Bangabandhu' Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of the nation, and BPL would flag off the celebrations.
"We want to begin the celebrations with cricket. We will dedicate this edition of the BPL to Bangabandhu," Hassan said. "It will be called the Bangabandhu BPL, and if a sponsor comes along, that name will be added to the title.
"We are happy to have team sponsors. The names might change depending on what the sponsors want. We will try to maintain some logic - Dhaka, Khulna, Chattogram, these names will stay. And if the teams, because they have sponsors, want to buy foreign players directly, that's up to them. If someone wants to bring an expensive coach, they can. The sponsors must be kept happy too."