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IPL '18 media rights decision likely in July, player recruitment norms to be tweaked

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NEW DELHI: Even as the Indian cricket board BCCI explores tweaks in new player recruitment norms by franchisees for the next edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2018, decisions on media rights is likely to be taken by next month and the title sponsorship to be decided by month-end.

This was stated by IPL commissioner Rajeev Shukla yesterday during the India-Bangladesh semi-final match in England where the Champions Trophy is under way.

According to Shukla, who was in conversation with commentators of All-India Radio (AIR) during the India-Bangladesh cricket match, the media rights would be hawked in a bundled form as well as separately. The media rights for IPL include those for TV, online, digital and overseas (outside Indian geographical region).

Chinese phone maker Vivo, wanting to make a splash in the Indian market and establish a presence, had picked up the title sponsorship for IPL for two years in 2015. Earlier, such sponsors included Indian real estate company DLF, and PepsiCo. The latter had opted out of sponsorship after betting and match-fixing scandals rocked IPL a few years ago.

A 2016 news report in the Mint newspaper stated that, for the Indian sub-continent, BCCI will award the television rights for 10 years and digital media rights for five years. The competitive bidding process would close on 25 October 2016.

At present, IPL’s TV broadcast rights are held by Sony Pictures Networks Pvt. Ltd, which will expire in 2017, and the Internet and mobile rights rest with Novi Digital Entertainment Pvt. Ltd, a unit of Star India, for a period of three years till 2017.

As to whether IPL is contemplating increasing the number of participating teams from the present eight, Shukla replied in the negative. This would mean that the teams from Gujarat and Pune would have to bow out in 2018 as controversy-tainted Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings are likely to stage a comeback after a two-year suspension.

Shukla also said during the conversation on AIR that BCCI and IPL are contemplating making changes in various criteria to pick and buy cricketers by various franchisee owners from next year.

The senior BCCI official elaborated that “some restrictions” would be placed on IPL team owners to desist them from picking a rookie player without any experience of BCCI-supported domestic cricket tourneys as it amounted to discrimination of deserving players who have played in Indian domestic cricket tournaments (Ranji Trophy, Duleep Trophy, Irani Trophy, etc).

About the reason behind BCCI agreeing to participate in Champions Trophy (where India would sometime have to play Pakistan, a country regarded back home as abetting and encouraging terrorism against India), Shukla smartly skirted answering directly, preferring to say that BCCI agreed on participation in CT 2017 as it wanted the national team to retain the trophy.

India is the current holder of the Champions Trophy and the next edition of the tournament would be held in India.

Shukla, while admitting that India has become a nerve-centre for global cricket contributing sizably to the revenue kitty of cricket’s international governing body ICC, stated that all outstanding financial issues related to revenue sharing would be sorted out soon and amicably between ICC and BCCI.

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