By Amlan Chakraborty
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's cricket board (BCCI) has received government permission to stage this year's Indian Premier League (IPL) in the United Arab Emirates, the league's chairman Brijesh Patel told Reuters on Monday.
The BCCI had earlier announced the popular Twenty20 competition, which could not begin in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, would be played in the UAE from Sept. 19, subject to government approval.
"Yes, we have received the permission from the government to stage the tournament in the UAE," Patel said by telephone.
"We have also invited expressions of interest for a new title sponsor," he added.
The matches will be played in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi as India continues to grapple with the pandemic with cases surging past 2.2 million on Monday and over 44,000 dead.
It is not the first time that the popular competition will be held outside India.
The 2009 edition took place in South Africa as it coincided with India's elections and the UAE hosted the early matches of the eight-team tournament five years later for the same reason.
IPL 2020 will have a new title sponsor after Vivo, which had secured the 2018-2022 rights for nearly $293 million, pulled out of this year's edition citing a weak business environment following the pandemic.
Companies with a minimum turnover of about $40 million can send expressions of interest by Friday and final bids would be accepted until Aug. 18, BCCI secretary Jay Shah said in a statement later on Monday.
Doubts remain if the BCCI would get anything remotely close to the 4.4 billion rupees (45 million pounds) it was getting from Chinese smartphone maker Vivo for each edition of the franchise-based league.
Coca-Cola is one of the several names doing the rounds as a potential title sponsor this year.
"At this moment, we are currently observing how the market situation is evolving and we are evaluating the opportunities that are available," Coca Cola India said in a statement mailed to Reuters.
(Additional reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)