The auction of players for the inaugural season of the Pro Kabaddi League saw aggressive bidding by all the eight franchises. The Patna franchise secured national kabaddi team captain Rakesh Kumar for Rs 12.8 lakh; this was the most spent on any player and three times the base price of Rs 4 lakh. Ajay Thakur was acquired for Rs 12.2 lakh by the Bangalore franchise (owned by Kosmic Global Media). The Delhi franchise, owned by Radha Kapoor, daughter of YES Bank’s Rana Kapoor, secured Surjeet Narwal for Rs 12.2 lakh.
A total of 96 players were auctioned. They were segregated into three categories — A, B and C, according to the levels (state, national, etc) at which they played. Of the 96 players, 24 were foreign ones — from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Iran, Japan, the UK, Indonesia, South Korea, Oman, Taiwan, Kenya and Turkmenistan. While Singh, Thakur and Narwal were in category A and were expected to attract high bids, category B players, too, saw high bids. The Visakhapatnam team (owned by Core Green Group) acquired Deepak Niwas for Rs 12.6 lakh, while Uday Kotak’s Pune team secured Manoj Kumar for Rs 9.1 lakh.
The base price for players in category B was Rs 2 lakh.
Floated by Mashal Sports, the Pro Kabaddi League is being spearheaded by sportsman and commentator Charu Sharma, the company’s managing director. The eight franchise owners include Ronnie Screwvala (Mumbai), Abhishek Bachchan (Jaipur), Uday Kotak (Pune) and Kishore Biyani (Kolkata). The Chennai franchise, owned by Kalpathi Investments, was replaced by a team from Patna.
The spending limit on players has been fixed at Rs 60 lakh a team. The players will sign two-year contracts with the franchises concerned. After two years, the teams are free to acquire players from the state and national pools, and rope in foreign players, too. The league will start on July 26. It will be aired on STAR India’s sports network at the prime time slot.
While initially, the games were designed to be on a home-and-away basis, the promoters have now chosen a caravan format—the entire entourage of the league will travel from one participating city to another, playing seven matches at a venue. Each team will play four games at its home ground.
“The decision to have the caravan format was to make the management of the tournament and stadia easier. It was a call we took at a logistics level. Of course, it does not hurt that the costs will also come down considerably,” said Sharma.