In a country like India where cricket is a religion, the Indian Premier League (IPL) is not only a sporting event but also has emerged as a money-making opportunity for many. It's a common sight for Mumbaikars during IPL matches that hangers and stalls of the roadside shops of Azad Maidan and Colaba get occupied with merchandise of the game. From jerseys and flags to caps and track suits, one could pick the merchandise of their favourite team.
But business this year dampened as the eight teams battle to clinch the title in Dubai due to COVID-19 restrictions in India.
Salman Ali (28) sets up his stall near the Wankhede stadium every year since the tournament was first held in 2008. During the match days, he earns between Rs 10,000-15,000 by selling caps and jerseys. But this year, Ali has not sold a single jersey in the last one-and-half month.
"People who go to the stadium buy flags and jerseys from us. But this year, people are watching the matches on television and our hope of earning a few extra bucks went in vain" Ali told FPJ.
The sellers also stated even on non-match days, they could sell and earn Rs 6000-8000 daily as youngsters who would come to Wankhede to buy tickets would flock their shops regularly.
"Youngsters and college goers would come from suburbs to buy jerseys in bulk during IPL. But this year due to the pandemic, people prefer to not step out of their homes due to COVID-19" stated Mohammad Abbas (32), another vendor. The vendors also highlighted that the suspension of the suburban railways is another reason why their business has been hit.
Ali mentioned that many of them have seen this coming, which is why they didn't procure fresh materials from the markets and were dealing on leftover stocks of last year.
"Even some of us were optimistic and procured raw materials, now most of them are in debt" stated Ali.
Bars and pubs which would decorate their interiors with flags and jerseys of IPL teams also chose to stay put this year due to pandemic restrictions.
"Every year we provide offers and schemes during match days. But this year we are providing limited service which is why we chose to maintain a low profile" stated a manager at a city based pub.
"We often used to supply customised jerseys at malls and pubs, but this year our clients stated that they won't be placing their orders" Aslam Rahmania a printing technologist told FPJ.