IBL a major boost for Indian icons

November 12, 2012 12:03 am | Updated 12:03 am IST - MUMBAI:

Five icon players identified for six franchise teams may not be the only brick missing in the Indian Badminton League project. Since all icons unveiled at the launch were Indian achievers of different hues (Saina Nehwal, Jwala Gutta, Ashwini Ponappa, P. Kashyap and P.V. Sindhu), presumably the sixth may also be a yet unnamed Indian international.

“We are here for the sake of them, otherwise it makes little sense if leading Indians don’t benefit from the IBL,” noted Ashish Chadha, CEO of Sporty Solutionz, the event’s commercial partner.

Availability of top-notch players from China is another grey area, viewed against the Chinese federation’s reluctance to expose its best players during international competitions as part of the strategy.

Badminton’s newest venture is approved by the world body (Badminton World Federation) and Asian body (Badminton Asia Confederation). So participation will not lead to any hassles for participants, faced by Indian players in other sports like World Series Hockey due to absence of official sanction from FIH, hockey’s governing body, informed BAI president Akhilesh Das Gupta.

IBL’s commercial partner is clear about money being the factor able to attract the sport’s crowd-pullers for the one million dollar prize money event. “The IBL will offer attractive appearance money to all players. The winning franchise will take home more than Rs. 3.5 crore,” he said. For now, 24 foreigners will be signed up by six franchises (four per team). None of them are listed among the icons, a factor which will not affect their desire to take part, according to Chadha.

The base price listed for the top 10 foreigners at the auction is $25,000 onwards, for foreigners in the top 25, $15,000 and beyond that $10,000.

“This is just the base price fixed for foreign stars, it can increase based on demand from franchises at the auction,” said the Sporty Solutionz spokesperson. Indian icons command the highest base price ($50,000), so the five internationals named above have plenty of motivation to perform in elite company.

Television coverage is an area where negotiations are in progress. “Three television companies are in touch with us for rights,” said Chadha. He had earlier informed that live telecast of 28 matches in season one would reach more than 150 countries. It is learnt that since entertainment featuring Bollywood names form part of the two-day badminton package (based on Sudirman Cup format), organisers are looking at television channels known for promoting sports and entertainment on prime time.

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