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IPL gets green light for UAE move, seeks new sponsor

Mumbai Indians celebrate after defeating Chennai Super Kings during the 2019 Indian Premier League Final match (by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

The Board of Control for Cricket in India has secured Indian government approval to run this year’s Indian Premier League in the UAE, according to league chairman Brijesh Patel.

The T20 tournament will now be held from September 19 to November 10 in three venues in the UAE – Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi.

“Yes, we have received the permission from the government to stage the tournament in the UAE,” Patel told Reuters.

The BCCI decided to relocate the competition due to the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in India. The country recently reported in excess of two million cases and over 44,000 deaths.

It is not yet clear if spectators will be allowed to attend the matches in the UAE. The PTI reported the Emirates Cricket Board is seeking government approval to admit spectators up to between 30 and 50 per cent of stadium capacity.

This year’s competition will also have a new title sponsor. Last week, the BCCI suspended its high-profile sponsorship deal with Chinese mobile phone brand Vivo for the 2020 season.

Vivo held title rights to the IPL in a five-year deal, from 2018 to 2022. Political tensions between China and India have provoked opposition to the deal in India.

The BCCI has now launched the invitation to tender process to find the new title sponsor.

The ITT invites interested companies to bid for the rights for the period from August 18 2020 to December 31, 2020.

It is also stipulated that those bidding for the rights must have a turnover of at least Rs300 crore ($40.1m/€34m) as per their last audited accounts.

Expressions of interest must be made by Friday and bids will be accepted until August 18.

Patel told the New Indian Express: “It is not a setback Vivo pulling out, there is already a lot of interest for title rights.”

“Whether it’s an Indian company or from anywhere else, whoever bids the most gets the rights, we will finalise the whole process by August 18.”

Consumer goods company Patanjali Ayurved told news agency PTI that the company is considering a bid for the title sponsorship rights.

There have also been reports that Vivo may return to the title sponsor role in a restructured deal from 2021, for a fresh three-year period.

(additional reporting by Matthew Williams)