The success of the inaugural Hockey India League seems to have caught the attention of the country's top corporate houses with eight of them expressing interest in owning the sixth franchise that will be added to the event next year.
According to a source in Hockey India, the success of the first edition of HIL has increased the interest among corporate houses for the sixth franchise, which will be based out of one of these five cities -- Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bhopal and Bhuvneshwar.
"There were no takers for the sixth franchise in this year's HIL but the tournament's success has heightened the interest among corporates to buy the sixth team. Eight top corporate houses are in the running to buy the sixth franchise," the source told PTI.
"We are in talks with them and whoever comes on board at the earliest will become the owner of the sixth team. The choice of the city is entirely the owner's prerogative but they will have to select their home base out of the five cities which we have already earmarked," he added.
Five teams -- Delhi Wizards, Ranchi Rhinos, Uttar Pradesh Wizards, Jaypee Punjab Warriors and Dabur Mumbai Magicians -- competed in this year's HIL, which was originally planned as a six-team affair, but the sixth outfit went unsold.
It was also learnt that the organisers are planning to rope in a brand ambassador for each team from next year.
"From next year there will be a brand ambassador with each team. The brand ambassador will be a renowned figure from the field of entertainment or sports," the source said.
When contacted Hockey India secretary general and HIL chairman, Narinder Batra he confirmed that eight top business houses have expressed desire to buy the sixth franchise.
"The talks are in an advanced stage and anytime the deal might be finalised. We are hoping to announce the name of the sixth franchise owner in 10-15 days time," Batra said.
The second edition of the franchise-based league will be held from January 23 to February 23 next year.
Ranchi Rhinos, jointly owned by Bangalore-based Patel Group and Chinese Taipei-based Unixcel Group, won the inaugural HIL earlier this year.
Hockey India has already appointed Australian Todd Faulds as its Director Competitions for HIL II.
Faulds worked as a Competitions Manager for the FIH Champions Trophy Men 2012 in Melbourne, International Super Series 2012 in Perth and was also involved in Australian Youth Olympic Festival this year as Competitions Director.