CHENNAI: Having endured a barrage of negative publicity over the years, the IPL’s image as problem child assumed a new dimension on Wednesday following the Bombay High Court order to shift matches out of Maharashtra April 30 onwards.
While people running the tournament got busy calculating the volume of losses last-minute shifting will cause and looking for alternative venues, industry experts felt the water controversy left a coat of bad propaganda the product called IPL could have done without.
“The IPL as a brand saw its image suffer over various controversies in the last few years. With the inclusion of two new teams, it had a chance to renew itself this year. Matches shifted out of Maharashtra denies it that opportunity. Somewhat unfortunately, this will further hurt the brand,” image guru Dilip Cherian told Express.
If corruption and inability to curb it was the feature of problems to have troubled the nine-year-old tournament in the past, Cherian thinks the water controversy gives the IPL an anti-populist look, because it can send a message that the event is insensitive to larger needs of the society.
“This became an issue between urban and rural India, sport and livelihood, between luxury and necessity and ultimately, between the rich and poor. If you juxtapose all these, suddenly the IPL becomes a punching bag for representing values deemed less important at the moment. The brand becomes target of attack for a variety of reasons,” added the co-founder of Perfect Relations, South Asia’s largest image management company.
People running the show were not thinking along such lines, but getting alarmed, thinking of the chain reaction the Bombay High Court order may cause. Complaints against wastage of water have been registered also in Bengaluru and Rajkot amid reports of drought in these two states.
“Making alternative arrangements for three venues is a massive problem in itself. Frankly, I can’t think of a solution if similar problems surface in other places. This court order can set a dangerous precedent, as it will encourage people to harass the BCCI on every issue. The IPL as a product has takers. It’s just the stage for display that we are worried about,” an IPL governing council member said.