Doubles specialists Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa were left disappointed with the Indian Badminton League's decision to slash their base price at the last moment in the Player's auction and termed it as "disrespectful" and "absurd".
Commonwealth Games women's doubles champions Jwala and Ashwini were two of the six icon players, who went under the hammer yesterday but just hours ahead of the player's auction, the IBL decided to reduce their base price from USD 50,000 (Rs 29,86,264) to USD 25,000 (14,93,125) after consultation with the six franchises.
In the auction, Jwala went to Krrish Delhi Smashers at USD 31,000 (Rs 18,51,520), while Pune Pistons bagged Ashwini for the base price of USD 25,000.
"I am very disappointed. Me and Ashwini signed the contract as icon players and we should have been given a better deal. We were not even informed about the reduction of base price. In fact, the news that women's doubles was replaced by another men's singles, I came to know late. What can I say, It is disrespectful and I am deeply hurt and upset by IBL," Jwala told PTI.
Ashwini, who won the World Championship bronze along with Jwala in London in 2011, was equally hurt at this last minute decision by the IBL. "I didn't get a call regarding this. No one explained things to me. I am really hurt and deeply upset. Until the auction got over I didn't even know about it," Ashwini said.
"I heard that since there is no women's doubles competition, so our price was slashed but then how come other women's doubles players got way more than me. That is more absurd. They make you icon players and then they don't treat you with respect," Ashwini said.
Interestingly, Ashwini's current women's doubles and mixed doubles partners Pradanya Gadre and Tarun Kona were bought by USD 46,000 and USD 28,000 after starting at a base price of USD 10,000 and USD 15,000.
Explaining the reasons behind this sudden slashing of the base price, Ashish Chadha, CEO of Sporty Solutionz, the commercial partner of IBL, said: "Last night we had a closed bidding but then two players Jwala and Ashwini went unsold, so it was decided that close bidding will not work so it was scrapped and we went for an open bidding for all icon players.
"In November last year, it was decided that we will have women's doubles and at that time Jwala and Ashwini were signed as icon players but subsequently women's doubles was dropped. But to safeguard their interest, IBL decided to still give them a chance to fetch a bigger amount in the auction and also decided to pay them the deficit amount if the amount is below USD 50,000," explained Chadha.
Asked if the open bidding was harsh on Ashwini, Chadha said: "That was something which was coming from the sack. We can't help it. Even if we had done a closed bidding, the maximum she would have got is USD 50,000. Still she gets USD 50,000 now."
The six franchises had a purse of USD 275,000 to buy 10 players -- four foreign, six Indian and one junior.
Asked why the women's doubles was replaced by another men's singles, Chadha said: "The women's doubles was dropped because there was less of players and awareness and second and foremost that was discussed at the governing council that if we have just one men's singles that won't let our single players to get a go at the top international players."