Istanbul in Turkey has emerged as a surprise candidate to host the mini-auction for the 2023 Indian T20 franchise league, which is expected to take place on December 16th, although Bengaluru is also under consideration. They had hosting rights for the mega auction for the 2022 season in February earlier this year.
The final decision is expected to be made by the first week of November.
Why hold it overseas?
Moving the auction overseas is part of the attempt to increase the competition’s global footprint.
A few years ago there was plan to hold the auction in London, but that did not happen in the end because of the opposition of the franchise owners at the time, who were concerned about the cost involved. However, with the increasing popularity of the game, there is now an acceptance that it is time to spread beyond India’s borders.
Recently, the new chair of the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) Richard Thompson has expressed a desire to stage Indian T20 franchise league matches in England, citing parallels with both the NBA and NFL, both who stage games in the UK as part of their marketing and globalisation strategy.
It has been reported that talks have already been held with BCCI officials about holding games at both Lord’s and The Oval, knowing that given the large Indian diaspora community in Britain, they would be certain sell-outs.
And that is not without precedent either. The whole of the 2009 season was played in South Africa because it coincided with the Indian general elections that year.
More recently, the Covid pandemic forced the relocation of the 2020 and the second half of the 2021 seasons to the Middle East.
The franchises have also wanted to play games overseas for some time, and have pressed to play games outside the framework of the regular competition because of the additional revenues they believe this can create.
Six of them are owners in teams in the new South African franchise competition which gets underway in January, whilst a number have expressed interest in bidding for the new WIPL (Women’s Indian Premier League) franchises when these are put for sale.
Cricket in Turkey
Cricket in Turkey is still in a fledgling state, although they have been granted affiliate status by the ICC, and became an associate member in 2017.
They played their first T20I match against Luxembourg in August 2019 during the Continental Cup of that year which was staged in Romania.
Although it is not known how many Indians live in Turkey, their numbers are not significant.
However, despite being still a relatively new sport, the country has big ambitions and aims to become a major cricketing country in Europe over the next decade. They also want to focus on their women’s team, and compete in continental and international competitions, and there is a concerted drive to increase the number of schools offering the sport.
Holding the auction in the country will hopefully spark a new wave of interest.
The BCCI holds sway
Whilst Istanbul may not be a universally popular choice for all the stakeholders, when it comes to major decisions concerning the Indian T20 franchise league, these are always taken by the BCCI.
There has been a significant turnover of office holders within the organisation recently, with Roger Binny succeeding Sourav Ganguly as President, whilst Arun Singh Dhumal is now IPL Chairman. Viacom 18 has also come on board as the digital rights holder.
Early indications are that, whereas the auction itself will be confined to one day, the BCCI could asp hold a workshop to accompany it, extending the trip to three or four days.
The 2023 season
The 2023 season is expected to start in the last week of March, with either the 22nd or 23rd pencilled in as tentative days. A final decision will be made at the same time as the auction when the governing council of the league meets.
Between now and then teams are busy deciding on their lists of retained players, who they intend to release, and those that they will consider trading. That will enable them to determine how much money they will have to spend in the mini-auction and to begin drawing up lists of possible targets.
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