The BCCI is likely to unveil the names of the five franchises that will contest the inaugural Women’s Indian Premier League (WIPL), and the cities they will operate from, on January 25.
The financial bids of these franchises, currently submitted in sealed envelopes, will be opened on that day. However, the BCCI has pointed out in its tender document that it is “not obliged to accept the highest monetary offer” and will look for ways for the bidders to work towards enhancing the growth of women’s cricket in India.
Ten cities on offer
The BCCI has shortlisted a pool of 10 cities and listed the venues, including their respective capacities, in the tender. The list includes Ahmedabad (Narendra Modi stadium, capacity 112,560), Kolkata (Eden Gardens, 65,000), Chennai (MA Chidambaram stadium, 50,000), Bangalore (M Chinnaswamy stadium, 42,000), Delhi (Arun Jaitley stadium, 55,000), Dharamsala (HPCA stadium, 20,900), Guwahati (Barsapara Stadium, 38,650), Indore (Holkar stadium, 26,900), Lucknow (AB Vajpayee Ekana cricket stadium, 48,800) and Mumbai (Wankhede / DY Patil / Brabourne Stadiums). While three venues have been listed for Mumbai, the BCCI has said one of three grounds will be utilised based on “availability and other factors.”
The current plan to have a pool of 10 cities differs from the one the BCCI had originally submitted to the state associations at its annual general body meeting last year. Back then, the BCCI said it intended to either pick one city from each of the six zones across the country, or hold the tournament in a half-a-dozen cities without proper home bases for the five teams.
Determining the highest bid
Barring Dharamsala, Guwahati and Indore, the remaining seven cities already serve as home bases for the men’s IPL teams. While the BCCI has set no base price, bidders have been asked to quote a price for 10 seasons. Bidders have been given the option of contesting more than one franchise/city, but the BCCI has said the successful bidder will only be given one franchise.
“The stadium with the highest bid amount will be awarded first,” the BCCI said. “Thereafter, the stadium with the next highest bid amount will be awarded.”
In case two of the highest bids for a single venue are equal, the BCCI has said there will be a re-bid. If the highest bids for two venues from two different bidders are the same, the BCCI will have the “discretion to decide the order.” In the case of a bidder raising the top bid for more than one ground, the BCCI has the liberty to decide the venue.
Format for first three seasons
Based on the information in the ITT, the first three seasons (2023-25) will each comprise 22 matches. In the league phase of the WIPL, each team will play the other twice (a total of 20 matches), and the table topper will progress straight to the final. The teams that finish second and third in the league will play an Eliminator to determine the second finalist.
The BCCI has also said March will remain the window for the WIPL. From the 2026 season, the WIPL could comprise “33-34” matches but the BCCI has not fleshed out any detail on the tournament structure.
On January 16, the BCCI is scheduled to open the sealed bids for the WIPL media rights. While no base price has been set, the BCCI expects stiff competition on the back of the record sums spent last year to bag the lucrative men’s IPL rights.
The media rights income is an integral part of the revenues both the BCCI and the franchises earn, as seen in the IPL. The BCCI has once again decided to stick to the same revenue-sharing formula it utilised in the IPL for distribution to franchises from the central revenue pool.
“The BCCI shall pay the franchisee 80% of all Central Team Licensing Income every year,” a board said in the ITT. “BCCI shall pay the franchisees 80% share of Central Rights income in first five years, 60% in next five years and 50% post that.”