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The BCCI has invited applications for "the right to own and operate" teams at the inaugural women's IPL, which is expected to run from March 3-26.
A press statement from the BCCI on Tuesday asked for "reputed entities" to make a non-refundable payment of INR 5 lakh (USD 6000 approx.) by January 21 to procure the "invitation to tender", which details the eligibility criteria for potential buyers. The final discretion on who gets to bid lies with the BCCI, however, following a technical evaluation process.
In February last year, then BCCI president Sourav Ganguly had said that the women's IPL would get off the ground in 2023. In August, the BCCI zeroed in on a window for March. Subsequently, the BCCI advanced the women's domestic calendar, which generally runs from November to April, to accommodate the Women's IPL.
Calls for the Women's IPL to kick off have been gaining steam since India's runners-up finish at the 50-over World Cup in 2017. When they reached the finals of the T20 World Cup in Australia in 2020, it gained further momentum before Covid-19 stalled women's cricket, and the sport in general.
Since 2018, the BCCI had been conducting the Women's T20 Challenge to run alongside the IPL in a bid to test the waters before expanding. A number of times, the previous administration headed by Ganguly had cited a lack of depth in players as an obstacle in conducting a full-fledged tournament.
Ever since the formal announcement was made about starting the WIPL, a number of existing IPL teams have been sending out talent scouts to identify players they can potentially sign for the women's tournament should they be awarded the rights to own a franchise. Rajasthan Royals, Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight Riders, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Punjab Kings are all believed to be interested in owning a WIPL team.
Last month, the BCCI had invited bids for media rights from 2023-27 for the proposed five-team tournament. As per media reports, as many as 10 entities picked up the media rights tender documents. All the entities who clear BCCI's screening process will be allowed to place their closed bids on January 12.