The third edition of the Premier Badminton League may just be a fortnight away but the problems of the franchisee-based tournament refuse to subside. Now, one of the team owners has asked for a meeting of all concerned parties to clear the air over certain issues before going ahead with the event.
In a letter written to Badminton Association of India’s commercial partners Sportzlive, Bengaluru Blasters have sought clarifications over the legal cases in Delhi High Court over the status of the league and also whether all teams were paying the franchisee fee.
Confirming that Bengaluru Blasters have asked for a meeting, Sportzlive Managing Director Atul Pande insisted that there were no problems as far as the conduct of the league was concerned and it would go ahead as scheduled from December 23.
“The legal cases are between Sporty Solutionz and BAI and we don’t have anything to do with it. Regarding the franchisee payment, all other franchisees have fulfilled their obligations and we will address the concern owner’s queries at the earliest,” Pande told The Field.
Each team owner is to pay a franchisee fee of Rs 3 crore and over Rs 2 crore on players’ fees. Men’s world champion Viktor Axelsen is the top player in the Bengaluru Blasters squad along with Scotland’s Kristy Gilmour and Dane doubles specialist Mathias Boe.
The eight-team league currently has only six franchise owners, with the Delhi and Mumbai teams being governed by the BAI’s governing council for now. While Mumbai was without an owner last season as well, the Delhi team owners withdrew on the eve of the players’ auction in October.
Even the auction was delayed for over two hours after the Lucknow team owners threatened to withdraw from the league if the retention policy, as accepted earlier by all teams, was not implemented.
Despite all these issues, the league is scheduled to kick off in Guwahati with PV Sindhu’s Chennai Smashers taking on Saina Nehwal’s Awadhe Warriors.
What is the Sporty Solutionz case?
While the league has been going strong for the last two years, BAI has been fighting a legal battle against Sporty Solutionz. They had conducted the inaugural edition of the Indian Badminton League in 2013 but the federation terminated their contract soon afterwards.
Sporty Solutionz had challenged BAI’s decision to unilaterally terminate their contract and has sought compensation for the same. They were awarded a compensation of Rs 2.5 crore following a lengthy arbitration process which upheld the termination but asked the BAI to compensate them for not following proper procedure.
Sporty Solutionz challenged that verdict in the Delhi High Court and have sought a stay on the PBL till the issue is settled. The next hearing on the case is scheduled on December 11.
Since Sporty Solutionz hold the Intellectual Property Rights for the IBL, the league was rechristened as Premier Badminton League from the second edition that was held in 2016.
BAI president clears the air
Meanwhile, Badminton Association of India president Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma has sought to clear the air saying there was no threat to the league.
“Over the last few days, a number of motivated rumours are being spread about the Premier Badminton League.
“I would urge you to ignore them as there is no element of truth in them. I would like to put it on record that we are on course for yet another spectacular season, and this time it will only be grander and bigger,” he said in a statement.
He has sent a separate letter to all team owners explaining the issue and seeking their co-operation.