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Return of IBL with 2nd edition in 2016; increased prize money, new teams, owners

FOLLOWING A GAP of almost two-and-half years, the second edition of the Indian Badminton League (IBL) will make a return in January 2016.

"We have not finalised the dates yet and are still working on it but it is likely that IBL will be held between the first and third week of January 2016," Badminton Association of India (BAI) president Akhilesh Das Gupta said on Thursday.

A top BAI source revealed to IANS that the dates are likely going to be from January 2 to 17. IBL 2 will have also have an increased prize fund from the over Rs.5 crore it had the last time in 2013.

"This time BAI is conducting the event on its own and there will be no third parties involved. It will be completely our undertaking. Indian shuttlers have already confirmed their participation while several foreign shuttlers have also expressed their enthusiasm to play in IBL 2," added Gupta.

BAI is planning to hold the players' auction afresh in November after the previous contract with their commercial partners Sporty Solutionz was cancelled in April.

Gupta also revealed that there could be change in ownership of a couple of franchisees. To add to it there could be the introduction of a Chennai team in place of the existing Pune one.

"We are thinking of keeping only one team per state. It is unfair and unwise that two cities in the same state have IBL teams like last time Mumbai and Pune both had teams," he added.

"It is better that one state has only one franchisee. We have Chennai in mind in place of Pune but we will see as no final decision has been taken yet."

But one decision is final that there will be six teams like last time. However, the franchisee fees for the new teams will be higher than the previous edition, when it was Rs.3.5 crore.

The first edition of the IBL was held in August 2013 following the conclusion of the World Championships. The tournament faced several hurdles and could not make a return.

The Saina Nehwal-led Hyderabad Hotshots were champions in the inaugural edition held from August 14 to 31, 2013.

"In 2014, the Commonwealth and Asian Games really stocked up the calendar giving us no space so it became very difficult. In 2015, the only two gaps available in the calendar was January or August but this year we had to resolve some issues," said Gupta.

BAI also plans to glam-up the IBL by bringing in Bollywood celebrities as brand ambassadors of teams and the tournament itself.

"We are also planning to involve a lot of celebrities, especially from Bollywood. The teams will have brand ambassadors from Bollywood as well as the tournament itself," said the BAI chief.

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