Indian Premier League is here to stay(Commentary)

June 3rd, 2008 - 12:10 pm ICT by IANS  

By V. Krishnaswamy
The numbers for the Indian Premier League (IPL) are not in, neither for the viewership nor the ones that balance the books. But be sure, when they are out, the former will be a cause for yet another party, and the latter a cause for some concern. There are lessons to be learnt from the inaugural edition. Next year there will be more time to sell and attract sponsors and, more importantly, a lot of expenses will come in for a severe scrutiny.

If we are to believe the IPL bosses, the valuations for the team will go up considerably. They are probably right and, when the time comes for two more teams to be added, they may be auctioned for more than twice the price the first round fetched.

But, for all that to happen, the teams will need to be run by the head, not the heart. And by hardcore professionals, not cricket fans no matter how rich and powerful they are. They might say they bought teams for their kids or because they ‘love’ the sport. Hey, no one spends the kind of money to buy toys. At the end of it, it is all pure business.

Viewership figures doubtless will give yet another big thumbs-up for the IPL. The 44 days and 59 matches had the country spellbound, forced Bollywood directors to postpone dates of new releases; forced directors of various saas-bahu serials to look open-mouthed at the IPL games and they also forced traditionalists, me included, who dared to say that people still preferred Tests and ODIs, to eat the humble pie.

The morning after the Grand Finale, people must have wondered how will they spend the evenings and discuss what when everything around is so gloomy — the Aarushi murder case, the petrol crisis, inflation, stock market problems et al? The IPL seemed to have been the only positive thing in the last few weeks.

Now, on to money matters, the line that caught everyone’s imagination — Big Money like never before! A billion dollars for TV rights, teams being bought in auction for more than 100 million dollars and cricketers for more than a million dollars.

Now the books need to be balanced. In these tough times, when the stock markets and inflation figures give all Business Czars sleepless nights, the IPL might have offered a few moments of joy, but that was just the excitement of cricket.

Contrary to what many might believe, there really is no way any franchise will be making money. Not this year, not next year, and breaking even in the third is a long shot but not impossible.

Remember the IPL had a first-mover advantage. It also forced franchises to make decisions in haste and repent at leisure, as the clich

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