While the fate of the 13th season of the Indian Premier League is still shrouded in uncertainty, former chief operating officer of the cash-rich league has opined that IPL could be expanding to 10 teams and 10 weeks over the next two to three years.
“I definitely think that a 10-team IPL is on the horizon in two to three years,” Sundar Raman, the former chief operating officer of the IPL, told Telegraph Sport. “There is a need to expand. IPL is a more mature game now than what it was in 2008.”
The present format of the IPL comprises eight franchises with a total of 60 games with the last version stretching to as many as 51 days. But Raman reckons that the structure of the league could be changed to 10 teams comprising 94 games in 70 days. And the year 2023 could be the perfect year to begin the proceedings. It would mark the 15th anniversary of the tournament with a new broadcasting deal to be penned.
“The amount of infrastructure that's available, the amount of talent that is available, and the amount of revenue that these players can earn and make a living out of it requires some serious consideration - and I would think that it is a requirement of the league for IPL to expand,” said Raman, who has also been chief executive of the sports arm of Reliance Industries, who co-own the Mumbai Indians. “If IPL has to expand and that's what will grow the game, why not?"
Meanwhile, a 70-day long tournament could have a major impact on the already-crammed cricket calendar making it possible for most foreign stars to leave the season midway. The present version sort of has a de factor window in the calendar with no international fixtures placed during that period.
“Increasing the IPL could create conflict and therefore the middling boards will not be able to have their international matches,” Raman said. “That is something that, yes, being thought of honestly - yes maybe that's an issue. But how can we make sure that everyone - Pakistan or Sri Lanka or Bangladesh or Zimbabwe - can benefit financially? I don't know the answer to that. But I believe at some point those questions will be asked and maybe multiple points of view will help us find that answer.”
Well, there was a time when IPL had 10 teams and the reduced to nine, around the period between 2011 and 2013. However, with its increasing cricketing standards, many reckon that timings are best for the league to expand.