Mumbai: On the following day of the IPL spot-fixing verdict suspending the two-time champions Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals, winners of the inaugural edition of the Indian Premier League, the Board of Control of Cricket in India announced their decision to discontinue the Champions League T20 with ‘immediate effect’.
Although it took a while, the patrons of the league – BCCI, Cricket Australia and Cricket South Africa (CA and CSA were the joint members) thought it was prudent to cut short CLT20’s journey following tournament’s six seasons.
Here are some reasons why that decision was made
Change in sponsors, too many too quickly:
The Champions League T20 started off with a great deal of brouhaha. Some even claimed that it would be bigger and better, if not improved version of Indian Premier League. However, all such claims have fallen flat.
What CLT20 has in fact become is a game of musical chairs for sponsors.
Bharati Airtel had signed a five-year deal (reportedly worth $40 million), which made them the official sponsors of CLT20. However, the telecom service provider backed out of the deal with 3 years still left on their contract. Then, Nokia chipped in. But like Airtel, they too shunned the tournament after sponsoring them merely for a year.
Karbonn Mobiles then became the third telecom company to fund the tournament. But they too backed out after playing sponsors for two years. The 2014 edition of CLT20 was sponsored by a Chinese telecom company named Oppo and they too were a last minute arrangement.
Lower TRPs and overdose of cricket:
Anuag Thakur, secretary of BCCI, termed it as a “difficult decision” but “Unfortunately, off the field, Champions League T20 wasn’t sustaining the interest of the fans as we had hoped,” he said.
The rapid change in sponsors is a clear-cut sign that Champions League T20 has been a TRP disaster. CLT20 supporters may argue that the TRPs since 2009 to 2011 showed a gradual rise (1.06 in 2009, 1.45 in 2010 and 1.64 in 2011). However, the growth is not satisfactory.
The commentators tried their best to hammer that CLT20 has been a great success, pointing to the fact that the stadiums remained jam packed. However, barring the final of 2014 and for a few games during the qualifiers at the relatively new and smaller centres, largely empty stadiums was a strong indicator of rising disinterest among the audiences alongside sponsors towards the CLT20.
If the reports are anything to go by, the official broadcasters, Star Sports, were losing $100 million a year due to the tournament.
There already are widespread concerns about cricket overdose and Indian players’ being unable to get a good amount of rest. In that scenario, the presence of CLT20 was defying commonsense.
Unknown teams (for a majority of Indian audiences):
One of the reasons why IPL continues to be a big hit among cricket fans is the presence of Indian stars. The CLT20 do guarantee the participation of at least three IPL teams. However, the presence of non-IPL teams and relatively lesser-known players divert if not, keep Indian fans away from the tournament.
When the makers started this tournament, they thought it would be the best T20 tournament, picking and choosing T20 teams across the globe. What it has turned out to be is exactly otherwise....