Saina Nehwal may have high hopes that the Indian Badminton League will match up to the Indian Premier League but that might just stay a dream, for now. According to the tournament's commercial partners, Sporty Solutionz, the inaugural edition faced a loss of around Rs 25 crores. It is now going to sell a part of its equity.
"The total expenditure on the event was Rs 85 crore and we have been able to generate about 65-70% of that as revenues and the rest is loss," said Ashish Chadha of Sporty Solutionz, to the Economic Times.
The revenues include sponsorship fees from title sponsors Vodafone, media rights, merchandise sales, gate collections and a fee of Rs 3.5 crore each from the six franchises. While Chadha tried to sell the concept to around 600 investors, a very few agreed to spare a few crores.
Chadha was in for a shock just before the IBL auctions. "Even my own investors, the people I was banking on, pulled out stating that they do not find any value in this," says Chadha. "So I had to arrange money on my own."
Even with the losses, Chadha has not given up hope and is all set to expand the IBL in its second season. He plans to add two more teams, more sponsors and advertisers, bigger and better venues and increasing the oomph factor, are all high up on his agenda. Six teams played this year.
"Earlier, the plan was to add two teams in the third year, but now we are planning to go out in the market," said Chadha.
"I am in the process of selling about 10-15% of my equity in the company. Talks are going on with a few investors and will be finalised in the next 10 days," says Chadha, who had even considered dropping the idea given the high degree of initial skepticism around the concept.
IBL did not find active sponsors even as Sporty Solutionz reached out to 50-60 brands and companies.
"Vodafone, the title sponsor for the event, came in at the last minute," Chadha said, "The deal was originally for the first year, but now they are interested in renewing it."
The broadcaster, team owners and advertisers also seem confident about the long-term prospects of the league.
"We are fairly confident of reaching break-even next year. The tournament this year was a success and looks like it's here to stay," says Prasad V Potluri, chairman and managing director of PVP Ventures, which owns Hyderabad Hotshots.
The team owners are required to invest every year about $1 million (about Rs 6.73 crore), including franchise fee, marketing costs, players' fees, etc.