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MUMBAI: The BCCI has no intention, whatsoever, of allowing fans inside the stadium during the entire course of the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) 13th edition in the UAE. While the “discussions are still going on” to decide if there should be any fan-engagement, even in the latter half of the event, the general idea floating around is that it will be “too much of a risk”.
In such a scenario, what have the BCCI and broadcasters Star India planned in terms of fan engagement for television viewers? “There’s no word from the BCCI on what they are doing for the IPL this year, in the absence of fans inside stadia. What kind of technology are they deploying to enhance consumer experience?” say those tracking developments.
There are no answers from the Board yet. “Proposals have been sent, but everything is pending approval,” say those in the know. The NBA, for instance, brought tech giants Microsoft on board to improve the fan experience as the league got underway on an unprecedented shortened season this year.
Among other elements, huge video boards, for example, were installed around the court where the games are being played with the idea of bringing more than 300 fans for each game to appear on those boards and interact with each other using the Microsoft tech platform.
“Has the BCCI even seen things through that lens? They’ve not even sorted the schedule yet,” say those looking for answers.
Questions on internal travel
The big question surrounding the scheduling debate is if the Abu Dhabi government has given explicit permissions to allow teams staying in Abu Dhabi to play their matches in Dubai and Sharjah and return to Abu Dhabi the same day.
“What’s the protocol? If you want to move from Abu Dhabi to Dubai or vice-versa, you get yourself tested 48 hours before travel and tests have to be negative, right? Now, if you travel to Dubai for a game and travel back, where is the 48-hour window? The BCCI is still sorting these things out,” sources told the paper.

What’s the other solution here? For teams to play as many games in Abu Dhabi as possible, thus wading through the travel protocols that are far more severe in Abu Dhabi than Dubai. “But won’t that give a distinct advantage to teams that are staying in Abu Dhabi,” say other franchises.
Promo controversy
Broadcasters Star released a promotional video of the league on social media on Wednesday evening, one that led to a huge furore.
While some jerseys have been adequately featured in the video, some haven’t – leading to a ruckus and debate. “Why discriminate between franchises? The teams that bring the most ratings from IPL have been sidelined in the video,” two franchises said.

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