Hockey India League to have eight teams by 2016
Posted on Feb 27 2014 | IANS
By Bharat Sharma, New Delhi, Feb 27 : Encouraged by the response to the first two editions of Hockey India League (HIL), its chairman Narinder Batra has said that by 2016 two more teams will be added to the existing six, giving national and international players better competition and avenues for more money.
Batra says he would like to see in all ten teams by 2018.
"The plan is to have eight teams by 2016 and 10 by 2018. One of the teams joining the tournament will most likely be from south India as the region doesn't have a representation yet," Batra told IANS here Thursday.
Odisha's Kalinga Lancers were the sixth team introduced in HIL-2 which ended in Ranchi Sunday.
The league began with five franchises -- Delhi Waveriders, Punjab Warriors, Uttar Pradesh Wizards, Ranchi Rhinos and Mumbai Magicians.
"The focus is on making the existing franchises sustainable and, after three years, we will get them to a break-even level."
Asked why not an extra team for 2015, Batra said: "It was decided to have only six teams for the first three years. We want to give them the opportunity to grow and the sponsors remain limited."
The league has attracted top players from top hockey nations such as Germany, Australia and the Netherlands.
Star Australian forward Jamie Dwyer and Dutch goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann are among the many foreign recruits who feel more teams will further add to the credibility of the tournament.
"This year the organisation was much better than the inaugural season. Similarly, more teams will mean more competition which can only be good for the event's future," Dwyer had told IANS in Ranchi Sunday when his team Punjab Warriors lost the HIL final to Delhi Waveriders.
His Punjab teammate Stockmann added: "The quality of hockey is as it is good but with more teams it could only get better."
More foreign players are also likely to feature next year including the Pakistanis who have not been able to play in the league owing to political reasons.
"There will certainly be more players from Australia, Germany and the Netherlands in the auction for next year. Pakistan's participation will depend on its relations with India at that moment," Batra added.