Now IPL style tournament in badminton
An IPL style badminton tournament Indian Badminton League (IBL) will be held next year as India's top five players, including London Games bronze medallst Saina Nehwal, will be the icon players in the six city-based league tournament.
Besides Saina, the other players are Parupalli Kashyap, the London Games men's singles quarterfinalist' world championship bronze medal winning women's pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa and youngster P.V. Sindhu.
Teams will have to buy players in an auction for the cash rich league that will be held next year from June 24 to July 11.
The IBL is a joint initiative of the Badminton Association of India (BAI) and its commercial partner Sporty Solutionz Private Ltd.
Eight cities - Delhi, Nagpur, Pune, Mumbai, Lucknow, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore - have been shortlisted but six, each having base price of Rs.3.5 crores, of them would be up for open sales in the first year.
Each team can have up to four foreign players, but during any given time only two will be available to play in the best-of-five ties. The format is on the lines of the Sudirman Cup world team championships.
"BAI seeks to make badminton the No.1 sport in the country and we hope the path-breaking IBL will trigger the change. Indian badminton is capable of reaching dizzy heights and we seek the support of the sponsors, media and fans to make the IBL a grand success. The revenue generated from the IBL will be pooled back into developing better facilities for badminton players and fans at the venues," said Akhilesh Das Gupta, president of BAI.
Saina said it is a historic moment for the sport in the country.
"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.
"There are so many tournaments 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.
National coach P Gopichand was also elated and lauded the endeavour.
"It's a great boost for Indian badminton. It will be great for the sport. I expect some big names, including from China, to take part as there is good money on offer," he said.
Indian players in the top 20 would have a base price of USD 20,000 and while internationals will have a base price of USD 10,000.
The base price of Indian national players and junior players' have been fixed at USD 5,000 and USD 3,000.
Foreign players ranked in the top-10 will have a base price of USD 25,000 while those from 11-25 would have USD 15,000 as the base price.