Indian Badminton League to take off next year
Six franchises to be chosen from eight cities in inaugural season
Five Indian players, including Olympic Games bronze medalist Saina Nehwal, were announced on Saturday as the icon players of five of the six city-based franchise outfits in the USD 1 million prize money Indian Badminton League (IBL) to be held next year.
Apart from Saina, whose base price has been fixed at USD 50,000, London Games men’s singles quarterfinalist Parupalli Kashyap, world bronze medal winning women’s pair Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa and up-and-coming P V Sindhu were named as the team icons at the launch of the League here.
The IBL, which is a joint initiative of the Badminton Association of India (BAI) and its commercial partner Sporty Solutionz Private Ltd, is to be held in six cities across the country from June 24 to July 11, 2013, and has the blessings of the world body, BWF, which has provided it a clear window in the annual calendar, organisers said.
Each team will have the liberty to have up to four foreign players with two available to play in the best-of-five ties on the format of the Sudirman Cup world team championships.
“Malaysia has already confirmed to send all its players (including Olympic silver medal winner Lee Chong Wei). The BAI has already approached the Chinese authorities,” said Sporty Solutionz CEO Ashish Chadha at the media conference.
Asked why someone like Wei would accept a base price of USD 25,000, when Kashyap was getting at least double that as his fees, Chadha said the Malaysian star and all others would be put up for the players’ auction, where his price would be determined.
Present at the launch, Saina said, “It’s a historic moment for Indian badminton. The game has become bigger and that’s why this is happening. Like the IPL in cricket, there is a lot of interest and I hope it is really successful.”
Saina did not see any problem in accommodating the event in her busy schedule.
“There are so many tournaments in the calendar. It (playing in IBL) should not be a problem. I am confident IBL will make the game even more popular among the masses,” said Saina.
One of the moving forces behind the League, former international and Maharashtra Badminton Association president Pradeep Gandhe, said the tournament differed a bit from IPL in that all the teams would play in one city for two days and then all would move on to play in another.
“Like in the Sudirman Cup, each tie would have men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles matches,” he added.
Chadha said that there would be prize money only for the winners and runners-up in the ratio of 65:35. “This is the business model we are adopting. The winners of the title would recover most of their investment in the first year itself as the winning prize works out to Rs 3.5 crore and the expenses, including acquisition of team, players salary and other running expenses, would be around Rs 5 crore,” he said.
“We will be announcing the franchise teams in the coming weeks and the players’ auction would be held in March,” he said, adding each team will have eleven players including one under 20 years of age. “Players would be contracted for five years. They would be with one franchise for two years,” he said.