The BCCI has suspended the 2020 edition of the IPL until further notice because of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is understood that the BCCI has not set a new window yet for the tournament, which was to be held between March 29 and May 24 originally.
In a statement signed by secretary Jay Shah on Thursday**, the BCCI said, "the IPL Governing Council of the BCCI has decided that the IPL 2020 Season will be suspended till further notice."
On Wednesday morning*, all the eight franchises were informed of the decision by Hemang Amin, the IPL's chief operating officer. Amin told the franchises that, following the extension of the nationwide lockdown until May 3 by the Indian government, there was no possibility of hosting the event in the regular summer window.
The decision follows a meeting among the BCCI's top brass over a conference call on Tuesday evening. Among those involved in the discussions were BCCI president Sourav Ganguly, secretary Jay Shah, treasurer Arun Dhumal, IPL chairman Brijesh Patel, and Amin.
This is the second time the BCCI has been forced to defer the IPL. Last month, just before the government put the country in a three-week lockdown, the board had pushed the start date of the tournament back to April 15.
On Tuesday, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi announced an extension of the lockdown until May 3, even as all domestic and international travel in and out of the country remained blocked. This made it apparent that there would be no chance of hosting the IPL in the foreseeable future.
Although it was preparing for this scenario for some time, the BCCI had also been optimistic about conducting a month-long IPL with the final scheduled in the first week of June. Also, as part of its contingency planning, the BCCI was looking at staging all the matches behind closed doors in limited centres.
All those plans had to be pushed to the backburner after a spike in Covid-19 infections around the country. As of Wednesday, over 11,000 people have tested positive in India with deaths inching towards the 400 mark. With several restrictions put in place by the government in terms of social distancing and travel bans, and overseas players unable to participate with their own countries in lockdown, the BCCI was left with little choice but to put off the IPL.
Whil this leaves the tournament's stakeholders, including the players, facing a big setback, the BCCI said all affected parties were supportive of the decision to postpone the IPL.
"The health and safety of the nation and everyone involved in our great sport remains our top priority and as such, the BCCI along with the franchise owners, broadcaster, sponsors and all the stakeholders acknowledge that the IPL 2020 season will only commence when it is safe and appropriate to do so," the BCCI said. "BCCI will continue to monitor and review the situation regarding a potential start date in close partnership with all of its stakeholders and will continue to take guidance from the government of India, state governments and other state regulatory bodies."
At the auction last December, a total 62 players were bought by the eight franchises, who spent INR 140.30 crore [USD 18.4 million approx.] overall. Australian fast bowler Pat Cummins became the most expensive overseas buy in IPL's history after Kolkata Knight Riders bought him for INR 15.5 crore [USD 2 million approx.].
None of the IPL players will receive any money until the tournament actually takes place. As per the norm, franchises make payments in two instalments: the first a week before the tournament starts and the rest after the season is over. The franchises, too, will feel the pinch as they rely heavily on the IPL's commercial revenue, which also includes broadcast rights which were bought by Star India for a record sum for a five-year period in 2017. Every franchise, since then, was assured a minimum share worth INR 150 crore [USD 19.7 million approx.].
* The story has been updated at 7.15am GMT on April 15, 2020 with news of the eight franchises being informed by the BCCI.
**The story was further updated at 11.30am GMT on April 16, 2020 after the BCCI released its official statement.
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo