IBL set to return next January

"This time, the BAI will organise the IBL and our core team will ensure it's much better and bigger than the inaugural one," assured BAI President Akhilesh Das Gupta in an informal chat with Sportstar on Thursday.

BAI Presdient Akhilesh Das Gupta with Saina Nehwal. Mr. Gupta said though the earlier edition of the IBL event was a huge success, it could have been organised better.   -  AP

After the bitter-sweet experience of the inaugural Indian Badminton League (IBL), the Badminton Association of India (BAI) is keen to get it right when it takes over the organisation of the second edition in January next year.

“This time, the BAI will organise it and our core team will ensure it's much better and bigger than the inaugural one,” assured BAI President Akhilesh Das Gupta in an informal chat with Sportstar on Thursday.

The first IBL was held in the second fortnight of August 2013. The next edition has been tentatively scheduled from January 2 to 17.

This time, the BAI has decided to go it alone with the IBL Governing Council calling the shots. Last time, the BAI’s then commercial partner Sporty Solutionz was entrusted to deal with various stakeholders. Since then, the two have burnt all the bridges.

Letting bygones be bygones, Mr. Gupta looked ahead with optimism though several aspects needed to be firmed up. “We will have the auction a month before the event. All the top players have already confirmed participation. I expect the leading names to fetch more than what they attracted in the last auction.”

Chennai is likely to replace Pune in the list of six franchisees.

“Personally, I feel, there should be only one franchisee from a State. Hyderabad, Lucknow, Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi are keen to continue,” he confirmed.

Though reluctant to reflect on what seriously went wrong in the first edition, Mr. Gupta pointed to the lack of hype. “The BAI thought though the event was a huge success, it could have been organised better. What was promised before the event could not be translated on the ground. The event did not receive the hype it deserved. Therefore, this time, we are already in touch with all stakeholders to ensure that Bollywood stars are roped in for the purpose.”

Perhaps, with this factor in mind, the BAI was planning a “grand opening ceremony” in Mumbai to make it easier for these “celebrities” to make an appearance and invite support for various franchisees.

Clearing the air on Chief National coach P. Gopi Chand staying away from the organisational responsibilities of the IBL, Mr. Gupta said, “he is very much part of the set up. Gopi has already been in touch with the top players. Let me assure you that he will be playing a more active role in the second edition than he did in the first.”

The BAI president was optimistic about the quality telecast with some of the leading channels showing interest. He also assured that the decision on whether to include women’s doubles in the format would be taken in due course.

“As we go along, we’ll have several exciting announcements regarding the IBL,” he signed off.