Security fears force Indian Premier League abroad
The Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 tournament could take place in England or South Africa this year, after the Indian government said it could not provide security for both the country's general election and its lucrative cricket tournament.
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REUTERS - The Indian cricket board will stage the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 tournament abroad this year due to security issues, the country's cricket chief said on Sunday.
"Because the government... are not in a position to provide security, we were forced to take the decision to move the event outside of India," Indian cricket board (BCCI) president Shashank Manohar told a news conference.
"We're having discussions with other boards who have shown their willingness," he added with England and South Africa being mentioned as possible alternative venues.
The BCCI had failed to get government clearance for security cover despite revising the match dates three times because the tournament clashes with the country's general election, to be held between April 16 and May 13.
The IPL will be played on its original dates, between April 10 and May 24, and is scheduled to return to India next season, league commissioner Lalit Modi said.
The South African cricket board confirmed it had received an official request from the BCCI to be a possible host of the event's second edition.
"We received an official approach this morning to be one of several options they are considering to host the tournament outside India," Cricket South Africa chief executive Gerald Majola said in a statement.
South Africa will also stage the Champions Trophy one-day competition beginning in September.
England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman Giles Clarke told BBC Radio Five Live that England would be ready to host the tournament if asked.
"We've got a very close and friendly relationship with the BCCI and if they have need of any help on matters we normally talk to each other a great deal and we'd be delighted to help if we can," he said.
International Cricket Council (ICC) president David Morgan said the decision to move a domestic tournament abroad was "surprising".
"I have heard rumours it might be staged in South Africa but that is quite surprising news," Morgan told Five Live in a telephone interview from Australia. "They have real difficulties with the elections going on in India but I've heard nothing officially from the BCCI or the IPL."
Indian officials said the huge financial implications and a tight international calendar had forced their hand. The World Twenty20 begins in England in early June.
"Under the given circumstances, there is no other period for the conduct of IPL matches," the BCCI said in a statement and apologised to the cricket-crazy Indian fans for not being in a position to host the event at home this year.
"There are many stakeholders apart from the BCCI, the players, the franchise owners, media partners, team sponsors, venues sponsors, apart from the cricket loving public at large.
"The experience of the first IPL season has shown that apart from providing employment to a large number of people at the various venues, IPL has also contributed close to one billion rupees ($20 million) to the exchequer."
Security concerns have dominated the build-up to the lucrative eight-team event, involving many big-name international players, after an attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in the Pakistani city of Lahore earlier this month.
The BCCI failed to secure approval from the government, who said it would be difficult to spare security forces as they would be deployed for the polls.
The country remains tense after bomb blasts killed 166 people in the financial hub of Mumbai last November.
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