The Indian Premier League has run into rough weather in the run-up to its kick-off on April 18 in South Africa over a dispute involving ticket pricing and hospitality rights for members of the Western Province Cricket Club in Cape Town, venue of eight matches, including double headers on the first two days.
An urgent meeting was held recently at the offices of the Western Province Cricket Association in which senior representatives of Cricket South Africa, WPCA, IPL, WPCC club manager Gerrit Engelbrecht and club chairman Paul Burton was held to resolve the problems.
The issues related to ticket pricing and allocation for WPCC members, food and beverages within the pavilion at the Sahara Park Newlands cricket ground which hosts the matches and hospitality rights for the 14 suites on the upper level of the club’s pavilion, Burton said in a message to the WPCC members posted on the club’s website.
“The view of the WPCC Committee is that first and foremost the rights of WPCC and its members must be upheld. If absolutely necessary, the club will seek urgent relief from any unlawful restrictions or regulations placed on it,” Burton has warned.
A statement issued by Andre Odendaal, chief executive of WPCA, said that the WPCC suite holders would have to give total access to the IPL for using the suites and, in exchange, they would be getting free tickets for the matches, according to a report.
Odendaal said that the IPL organisers had “insisted that, as a non-negotiable requirement for the hosting of the eight matches in Cape Town”, they (IPL) required access to all the suites.
The WPCA CEO also warned the WPCC members that if they are unable to deliver their suites to the IPL “Cape Town and cricket in Western Cape will be the ultimate loser”, the website reported.
In response, WPCC chairman Burton said that IPL was great for cricket, for Cape Town and for South Africa, and the club was willing and able to help the IPL and CSA in many ways.
“But we are not prepared to capitulate to demands or unreasonable requests that would prejudice our rights, would impact negatively on WPCC members and business partners and could leave the club open to breaches of its agreements and potentially liable for damages.”
As a consequence to the stand-off, ticket sales to WPCC members have been kept on hold and it was anticipated to commence only on April 14, Burton said.
“We have pointed out to the WPCA and CSA that this is no way to treat loyal Western Cape lovers and supporters of cricket,” the club chairman said in the message.
He also urged them to show support for the April 11 warm-up tie between Cape Cobras and IPL franchise team Rajasthan Royals, who won the first edition of the Twenty20 event held in India last year.
The travails of IPL in Cape Town are somewhat similar to its dispute with the members of the Cricket Club of India here that owns the Brabourne Stadium.
The members of the CCI had rejected the IPL’s demands for complete access to the club house for hosting the inaugural match and the final when the Twenty20 League was originally scheduled in India before it was shifted to South Africa.