Revised IPL dates rejected

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The Indian Premier League's 2009 season remained in doubt today as organisers failed to secure the federal government's clearance on security for players and spectators during the lucrative Twenty20 tournament.

A meeting between Indian cricket board officials and top bureaucrats of the interior ministry ended without resolution, less than a month before the competition is due to start.

"There's been no decision. The Home Ministry and the BCCI conveyed their respective views, and we also explained the concerns of the various stakeholders," Narainswamy Srinivasan, secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), said after the 90-minute meeting.

The Home Ministry, which has expressed concern about the six-week IPL tournament clashing with the country's general elections and stretching security forces too far, has now rejected two proposed schedules submitted by the IPL.

The league was scheduled to run 10 April - 24 May, while the elections for the Indian Parliament's lower house will take place across the country in five different phases between 16 April and 13 May.

Tournament organisers altered their original match schedule after federal interior minister Palaniappan Chidambaram cited security problems due to the clash between the elections and the IPL.

Even the revised match schedule, designed to keep matches away from a city or state on the relevant polling dates, was rejected on Friday.

The BCCI sought Monday's meeting with the central government's interior ministry as several states had expressed a reluctance to host matches.

IPL officials are keen to stick to the same timeframe as it might not be possible to find another slot for the tournament on a crowded international calendar, with most of the star players required for the Twenty20 World Cup in England in June.

Some players and officials have expressed concerns about playing on the subcontinent after the recent terrorist attacks on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore, Pakistan.

Seven Sri Lankan test players, an assistant coach and a match official were among those injured in a deadly ambush by gunmen as the team traveled to a cricket stadium. Six policemen and a driver were killed.

The Lahore attacks have forced IPL organizers to undertake a detailed assessment of the security arrangements.

The IPL has promised to take charge of all player security arrangements for the event, with tournament chief Lalit Modi saying the security budget was 10-times what it had been for the 2008 event.