HIL 2018 ‘suspended’, future uncertain?


Hockey India League seems to have already played its last edition. The HIL is in serious trouble.

Two teams – Delhi and Ranchi – will not continue. The third, Kalinga Lancers form Odisha faces bureaucratic bottle necks. ‘File is not cleared yet’ remains the status.

InsideSport has learnt that Hockey India, the most professionally run national sports federation under its former President Narinder Dhruv Batra, will not conduct the sixth edition of the HIL. There are certain plans to bounce back with a new edition from 2018.

More than the franchisee issues, HI management itself is finding difficult to sustain the league ever since Batra left the federation to take the reigns of World Hockey Federation FIH, says an HI insider. The former president had created a business model where the franchisees were assured of certain return on their ‘investments’. Without him the HI management is struggling to fulfill those commitments. It’s also the first time in the five year history of HIL that players payments by some of the franchisees are reportedly delayed.

Delhi Waveriders, owned by the Wave group has, formally informed Hockey India to disassociate itself from the league. Manpreet (Monty) Singh Chadha, the Wave Group vice-chairman, was never excited about the project. It was his call to discontinue from the league.

Sahara, is certain to disassociate itself from the Ranchi team. Ranchi Rays would carry a premium for itsassociation with brand icon Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Sahara was not ready to take the cost of running the team and shell out the ‘endorsement fee’ to the ‘brand icon’. There is no certainty on Lucknow either.

‘Files not yet cleared’ may be the status of Kalinga Lancers. However, that’s not a major worry for Hockey India. The State Chief Minister Navin Patnaik, former India star and member of Parliament Dilip Tirkey have considerable interest in the team. Thus getting a go ahead remains a mere formalities.

Punjab Warriors, with the team owners JayPee Group’s financial concerns, remain among the non-starters.

Mumbai is the only safest and committed franchisee to stay, but prevailing circumstances will also affect their commitment.

The seventh entrant in the HIL, JSW have successfully bid for the Bengaluru franchisee. But, the Parth Jindal-owned franchisee cannot be expected to come on board if there is no certainty about the league.

Hockey India for now will not comment on the matter. “Discussions are going on. We will only comment when everything is clear,” says the office of HI Chief Executive, Elena Norman.

The Indian federation has, however, reportedly informed the FIH about its plans to suspend the league in 2018.