Pankaj Advani gets conferred with the prestigious Padma Bhushan award from President Ram Nath Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhavan
April 2, 2018
After years of suffering, Indian volleyball finds glimmer of hope in glitzy Pro Volleyball
May 9, 2018

Decks cleared for take-off of Pro Volleyball

MUMBAI: In a country where popularity of the Indian Premier League (IPL) resulted in mushrooming of league-format games across sports, one of the most popular and followed team sports across the world, volleyball, had to wait for a league of its own.

While announcements were made two years back, the internal feuding within the federation delayed the launch. However, with the Volleyball Federation of India (VFI) signing a 10-year commercial partnership with sports marketing firm Baseline Ventures, the decks are now being cleared for the league, titled Pro Volleyball, to hit the court.

Promoted by Baseline, Pro Volleyball is all set to make its debut in India in September this year. ETwas first to report on April 2 that Baseline has roped in sports expert Joy Bhattacharjya as the CEO for the league. “The delay gave us time as to do lot more homework,” said Tuhin Mishra, managing director, Baseline Ventures.

“There are live examples of what works and what doesn’t in leagues across. We have been able to imbibe the good parts and also learned from others’ mistakes.” The bid document will go out on May 15 for interested parties to bid for cities. The base price per franchise has kept at Rs 3 crore. This will include the players’ cost as well as flights, stay and other costs. “We want to make the best television product possible. So we thought, to start with let’s keep it six teams, keep it tight, showcase the quality of volleyball and control it in only two venues — one in the north and one in the south,” Bhattacharjya said.

He added that some of the leagues are having issues because people are not yet concerned about the franchise. If the franchise doesn’t see short to medium term profitability there is nothing in it for them and it becomes a revolving door.

“We want strong partners and we want to look out for them from day-one onwards. So we are clear, control costs so that franchises benefit as much as others,” Bhattacharjya said. As per the plan, there will be a total of 18 matches that will be played across two venues. The teams compose professional players from both India and abroad.

Player auction will be held in July and franchise-owners can bid for the Indian players from a pool of over 90 players, while the foreign players will be recruited via player draft.