The second edition of the Premier Badminton League (PBL) began with a super clash between Carolina Marin and PV Sindhu. But games outside the court dominated the day as the owners of the Mumbai Rockets decided to pull out the tournament, citing “environmental and financial challenges”.
While the owners have cited financial difficulties in going ahead, it is understood that the team will still continue in the league.
The developments and the uncertainty surrounding them left PBL in a mini-crisis with none of the officials willing to comment about it. There has been no official statement from Badminton Association of India (BAI), which runs the league, with SportzLive, which is its marketing partner.
According to the PBL website, online healthcare service provider Zoylo Digihealth is the owner of Mumbai Rockets. The Hyderabad-based company, which has been in business for 12 months with a paid up capital of Rs. 1 lakh (approximately $1470), has Vinod Kumar Reddy and Sampath Kumar Reddy listed as their directors.
The mini-crisis does not augur well for the league, which has been launched with several brands as sponsors for its second edition.
This is the second mini-crisis for the league in the last few days. Last week, the matches at Chennai were dropped from the schedule almost at the last minute and the organisers decided that matches scheduled for Chennai will be held in Bengaluru. No reason for the last minute change in the schedule was given. After that decision, effectively, the six-leg tournament has now been reduced to five.
The move to cut down one of the venues for the matches effectively hits at the finances of the home team, the Chennai Smashers in this case. The uncertainty regarding participation is also expected to hit interest among those who buy tickets to watch the matches in the stadium. Developing a loyal fan base in the face of uncertainty could be the first casualty, which could impact the long-term profitability for the teams.
According to the agreement with the teams, the earnings from ticket sales are to go to the home grounds of the teams. With Chennai Smashers getting a home ground in Bengaluru, the team cannot be expected its loyal fans to be present for the match. Since badminton matches are held in stadia that can accommodate nearly 5000 people, the earnings of Chennai Smashers for the current year is certain to take a hit.