Indian Super League
The upcoming eight-team franchise-based Indian Super League was conceived by IMG-Reliance, who did not think the I-League, India’s current domestic football league, could recover the investment they had made when they bought the All Indian Football Federation’s marketing and telecast rights in December 2010 for Rs 700 crores. The I-League could not capture the national imagination as places such as Goa, Kolkata and Shillong were over-represented while entire regions went unrepresented. With its yet-to-be-announced marquee international players (albeit retired or semi-retired) and famous managers, the ISL can attract new audiences to Indian football. There are rumours that the likes of Thierry Henry and Michael Owen may play the three-month long tournament. With John Abraham (North East), Ranbir Kapoor (Mumbai), Salman Khan (Pune), Sourav Ganguly (Kolkata) and Sachin Tendulkar (Kochi) being co-owners or associates of various franchises, and La Liga side Atletico Madrid buying a stake in the Kolkata franchise, the ISL will have plenty of celebrity power.
International Premier Tennis League
Mahesh Bhupathi’s highly ambitious inter-city league will be held from November to December this year across four cities: Manila, Dubai, Mumbai and Singapore. It will feature 24 best-of-five round robin matches with a set each for men’s and women’s singles, men’s and mixed doubles in a speeded up format and, if required, a legend’s singles tie-break to decide the match. A clutch of star players have been lined up for the four franchises, including Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Serena Williams, Caroline Wozniacki, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Rohan Bopanna, Sania Mirza and Ana Ivanovic. It is believed that more than Rs 140 crores was spent on the 28 players sold at the March auction in Dubai, in which more than 70 players made themselves available. Nadal, who will captain the Indian Aces, was reportedly signed for Rs 6 crore. Murray is skipper of Team Manila, Djokovic of UAE Falcons and Williams of Singapore Lions. The winning team will pocket Rs 6 crore in prize money, and the tournament promises to combine world-class tennis with NBA-style entertainment.
Pro Kabbadi League
This revolutionary concept seeks to transform the largely rural and unglamorous sport kabbadi into a glossy product and make superstars of the unknown Indian players who are among the best in the world. A property of Mashal Sports, owned by industrialist Anand Mahindra and his brother-in-law Charu Sharma, the Pro Kabbadi League will be played from July to August this year. Star Sports will telecast the matches live. Two-time Asian Games gold medalist Rakesh Kumar attracted the highest bid at the player auction — Rs 12,80 lakh, from the Patna Pirates — followed by Deepak Nivas, who was paid Rs 12.60 lakh by the Telugu Titans Among the high-profile team owners are actor Abhishek Bachchan (Jaipur), the Kotak Group (Pune), UTV founder Ronnie Screwvala (Mumbai) and Future Group chief Kishore Biyani (Kolkata).
Indian Badminton League
The inaugural edition of the IBL, the richest of its kind in the world, with Rs 6 crores in prize money, was held in August 2013. It featured the world’s leading badminton players, barring the Chinese, who were busy with their own commitments. Promoted by Sporty Solutions, the league featured six franchises, each fielding 12 players including four foreigners. Malaysian Lee Chong Wei, a former world No. 1, was bought for Rs 81 lakhs by Mumbai Masters (owned by actor Nagarjuna, with Sunil Gavaskar as brand ambassador) while SainaNehwal was snapped up by the PVP Ventures-owned Hyderabad Hotshots for Rs 72 lakhs. Each match consisted of two men’s singles, one women’s, one men’s doubles and one mixed doubles encounter. The Nehwal-led Hotshots, which also had former world and Olympic champion TaufikHidayat from Indonesia in their ranks, won the title.
Indian Wrestling League
The Wrestling Federation of India and Sporty Solutions will combine to deliver the world’s biggest pro-wrestling league in November 2014. Inspired by the encouraging performances of the Indian wrestlers at the London Olympics 2012, the league will see six city-based teams compete for several crores in prize money. Local hero Sushil Kumar and top wrestlers from Japan and Kazakhstan are said to be in the mix.
Louis Philippe Cup
Three editions old, this team golf tournament was conceived by Rishi Narain Golf Management (Narain was part of the 1982 Asian Games gold-medal winning golf team) in association with the Professional Golf Tour of India. City-based teams featuring the leading Indian pros, such as Gaganjeet Bhullar, Anirban Lahiri, Jyoti Randhawa, Shiv Kapur and Shiv Chowrasia, fight it out for the title. In the inaugural edition, played at the Karnataka Golf Association course in Bengaluru, in March 2012, Navratna Ahmedabad emerged as surprising winners from among 10 teams and pocketed Rs 36 lakhs of the Rs 1.34-crore total prize money. Among the other teams competing was the Kapil Dev-owned Dev Ellora Chandigarh.
Hockey India League
The two-edition old Hockey India League has had more success than the rival Nimbus-organised World Series Hockey, which was held in 2012, and its earlier avatar,he Premier Hockey League (2005-08). Enjoying the blessings of the International Hockey Federation (FIH), the HIL, like the IPL, features the best Indian and international players, such as Jamie Dwyer, Lucas Vila, Moritz Furste, Jaap Stockmann and Simon Child. The franchises are owned by leading corporates, such as Sahara, Jaypee and Dabur. Each signed 10 foreign and 14 Indian players in an auction. Teun de Nooijer commanded the highest fee, Rs 53 lakhs, while Sardara Singh was the most expensive Indian at Rs 47 lakhs. Ranchi Rhinos won the inaugural edition in early 2013, and Delhi Waveriders came up trumps in the six-team affair this year.
Golf Premier League
This tournament one-upped the Louis Philippe Cup by attracting top international players, including Major champions Angel Cabrera, Darren Clarke and Michael Campbell. The first edition of the Golf Premier League, an eight-team franchise-based league, was played in February 2013, at the Sahara Amby Valley resort near Lonavala. It is a day-night tournament, which makes it interesting viewing on television. Indian ace Shiv Kapur and Neeraj Sareen were the architects of the tournament, which saw Rs 4.2 crores spent at its first player auction. Uttarakhand Lions, which is co-owned by the GTM group and Indian cricketer Harbhajan Singh, won the first edition and half of the R 2.5-crore total purse. The Colombo 6s franchise is owned by Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lankan cricketer.
Indian Racing League (i1 Super Series)
The twice-postponed IRL, promoted by Machdar Motorsports, was to see nine teams representing different Indian cities compete in 10 races at five FIA approved circuits, in Bahrain, Doha, New Delhi, Chennai and Kuala Lumpur. Each team will comprise of one Indian and one international driver, and all will drive a single-make single-seater car, the Radical SR3. The drivers will not be auctioned, but selected by a panel. The league is seen as an opportunity for young Indian drivers to rub shoulders with the world’s best. The cost of a franchise was, reportedly, about Rs 30 crores for 15 years. There were reports that the likes of Shahrukh Khan, Nagarjuna and some leading Indian cricketers were planning to pick up stakes in the franchises, but no more details have been forthcoming.
Super Fight League
The brainchild of actor Sanjay Dutt and businessman Raj Kundra, the much-criticised Super Fight League is a mixed martial arts tournament meant to bring international fighters to India while encouraging fledgling local fighters. Bollywood beauties and badshahs were there in full force to lend hype and oomph to the event that was launched in March 2012.