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Page last updated at 07:51 GMT, Sunday, 22 March 2009

IPL will be staged outside India

The IPL is the most lucrative tournament in cricket

Next month's Indian Premier League will be held outside the country after organisers failed to secure government approval for the matches to go ahead.

The tournament clashes with the upcoming Indian general election, prompting fears over security.

England and South Africa have both confirmed they have been approached by the IPL about hosting the event.

Fears over safety were heightened after recent attacks on Sri Lanka's players in the Pakistan city of Lahore.

IPL organisers have blamed the government for being unable to provide security for the showpiece tournament.

"Due to the attitude of the government that it cannot provide security for the tournament, we are forced to take a decision to move the IPL out of India," said the country's cricket chief Shashank Manohar.

"A final decision on the venue will be announced in two to three days."

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has released a statement confirming it has been asked by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to examine the feasibility of hosting the 2009 tournament.

"Officials from both Boards have held exploratory discussions to relocate the tournament to England and Wales," read the statement. "Further meetings will be held during the forthcoming week."

ECB chairman Giles Clarke had earlier said that England "stand ready to help" if the IPL asked for assistance.

"We've got a close and friendly relationship with the BCCI and if they need any help on matters we'll be delighted to help if we can," Clarke told BBC Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek programme.

And Minister for Sport Gerry Sutcliffe said he was confident England could host the event if required.

We have to ensure that the quality of the tournament as expected by our fans is delivered to the fullest without any compromise

IPL commissioner Lalit Modi

"I'm sure it would be possible (to stage the IPL in England)," he told the BBC.

"We have picked up lots of experience recently of hosting world-class events and the ECB can do that."

There are logistical complications arising from the tournament being held in the UK as England play three Tests and five one-day internationals against the West Indies between 21 April and 26 May, which is then followed by the ICC World Twenty20 from 1 June.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) has also announced in a statement that they have been approached by the BCCI.

"We received an official approach this morning to be one of several options they are considering to host the tournament outside India," said CSA chief executive Gerald Majola. "We do not know what the other options are and it is not for us to comment on that.

"At this stage we are looking forward to holding discussions with IPL officials to discuss the proposal in detail."

The Sri Lankan Cricket Board have told BBC World Service Sport that they have offered to host the tournament.

"Being a neighbouring country we feel we would be the ideal location for them to come and play this tournament," said the secretary of the Sri Lankan Board, Nishantha Ranathunga. "It is a good opportunity for Sri Lanka as well."

General elections in India are spread over five days between April 16 and May 13, cutting significantly into the IPL's schedule which runs from April 10 to May 24.

Two proposed itineraries were made to India's federal Home Ministry by IPL organisers but both were rejected as the chief ministers of Maharashtra and Andra Pradesh refused to allow the tournament to take place alongside the elections.

Federal Home Minister P. Chidambaram said last week the elections were "unquestionably" the first priority for India's government.

"I can't exempt any state government from giving to the election commission the forces they have promised," he said.

"I have also made it clear that I cannot spare any central paramilitary forces (for the IPL)."


Despite previous denials from IPL commissioner Lalit Modi that the tournament could be moved out of the country, the decision of the two states forced the hand of the BCCI.

Concerns about security have been heightened after the recent attacks on the Sri Lankan cricket team in the Pakistani city of Lahore at the beginning of March.

The owners of the eight IPL franchises have been involved in discussions with event organisers and Manoj Badale, the chief executive of the Rajasthan Royals, who won the IPL last year, said a number of factors need to be considered before a choice of venue is made.

"There are all sorts of implications but the financial ones are significant," he told BBC Radio 5 Live. "I think at this stage we've got clarity of what these options mean."

"South Africa and England are definite options. The weather and the availability of grounds are a massive consideration.

"Dubai has definitely been looked at and a couple of other options in the Middle East.

Kevin Pietersen
Pietersen has said he may withdraw from the IPL over security fears

The huge amounts of money involved in the IPL has attracted some of cricket's best players to the event, including England duo Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff, who become the most costly cricketers at the auction in February when they were sold for $1.55m (£1.1m) each.

However, numerous players have voiced concerns about their safety with Pietersen stating recently that he would withdraw if his security fears were not dealt with.

Flintoff though has expressed his disappointment at being denied the chance to savour the experience in India.

"It's disappointing news because one of the big attractions for me about the IPL was playing in India," he said. "It's unfortunate but if we don't do that this year then hopefully we can do it again next year."

Modi said the integrity of the event was paramount in any decision that is made and hinted that the IPL would be willing to underwrite the losses of the franchises arising from the decision to move the tournament abroad.

"The revenue model and costs is of no concern and should not be a concern," he said. "Revenue is not the issue. The issue is the integrity of the tournament. This is a 59-match tournament and it will remain a 59-match tournament.

Cricket fans in India reflect on IPL's move abroad for the season

"The president of the BCCI has authorised the IPL to ensure that we do not cut corners and we deliver a tournament of world standard wherever it is played in the world."

Despite the change in venue, Modi insists that the tournament schedule will go ahead as originally planned, including start times for matches.

"We have to ensure that the quality of the tournament as expected by our fans is delivered to the fullest without any compromise," he said.

"What is critical for us is that Indian viewers get to watch the matches at 1600 and 2000 IST. That is what we are aiming for and that is what we will achieve."

This would mean fixtures will be at 1130 and 1530 BST in England.

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see also
Indians saddened by IPL decision
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Sad day for Indian cricket
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Pietersen plans IPL safety talks
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IPL will go ahead, declares Modi
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Pietersen keen to learn from IPL
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English stars to take IPL advice
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India calls for IPL cricket delay
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England duo set for IPL showdown
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Gunmen shoot Sri Lanka cricketers
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Mumbai rocked by deadly attacks
27 Nov 08 |  South Asia

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