In the run-up to the Indian Badminton League auction, naysayers were having a field day as organisers kept postponing the dates.
They wondered whether the League, which is scheduled to be held between August 14-31 would take place at all, given the fact that the men in charge were struggling to get the best in the world to take part in the million-dollar competition.
Fans will not get to see the famed Chinese and a host of other top players, but a beginning has been made nonetheless. Malaysia’s World No 1 Lee Chong Wei topped the auction as he was lapped up by Mumbai Masters for USD 135,000. Saina Nehwal, who was keen on representing her home city, went to Hyderabad Hotshots for USD 120,000.
Badminton Association of India president Akhilesh Das Gupta was delighted with the outcome of the auction where the six franchises picked up 60 players. “A generous amount has been spent on Indian players by the franchises, which is a very positive sign for the Indian players and the sport as a whole. Other than auction money, the players would also be getting endorsement deals,” he pointed out.
“The auction reflected a healthy and exciting competitive streak among the franchises and shed light on their gameplan. The IBL auction has set the ball rolling for what promises to be an inimitable experience in sports entertainment,” he added.
Icons’ price reduced
Meanwhile, doubles specialist Jwala Gutta went to Delhi Smashers for USD 31,000 while Ashwini Ponnappa went to Pune Pistons for USD 25,000 after their base price was reduced from USD 50,000 to USD 25,000 following a meeting of all the franchises.
“Last night (Sunday) we had a closed bidding but then two players Jwala and Ashwini went unsold, so it was scrapped and it was decided that their base price be slashed to USD 25,000 and all icon players should be put under the hammer at the auction,” said Ashish Chadha, CEO of Sporty Solutionz, the commercial partner of IBL.
In another interesting bidding war between Bangalore and Hyderabad, doubles player Pradnya Gadre fetched a whopping USD 46,000 after starting with a base price of USD 10,000, while little-known Maneesha was sold at USD 26,000, more than six times her base price of USD 4000.