The Anand Mahindra and Charu Sharma-promoted Pro Kabaddi League is set to have player auctions next Tuesday.
The auctions would feature 72 Indian players and 24 foreigners. Each team can have a maximum of 12 players (minimum nine Indians and up to three foreigners). But all three foreign players of a team can play in a game, unlike cricket's Indian Premier League, where a maximum of four can play.
The foreign players would include athletes from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Iran, Japan, the UK, Indonesia, South Korea, Oman, Taiwan, Kenya and Turkmenistan.
The promoters, after consultation with the franchise owners, have decided to increase the salary cap from Rs 60 lakh to Rs 75 lakh a year. While the base prices of the players are yet to be announced, the marquee players' cost has been fixed at Rs 10 lakh a year, the promoters said.
Sharma said, "We did not want to make the tournament very expensive. The idea is to build the sport and get it the eyeballs first. For us, the next big step is the player auction and we will be publishing a small booklet with the players' brief biographies. We understand the players may not be well-known and the book will help the franchises and the media (and through them the readers) to get acquainted with the players."
Announced in March, the league has eight teams, two each from east, west, north and south. Some promoters include the Future Group's Kishore Biyani (Kolkata), Ronnie Screwvala (Mumbai), Uday Kotak (Pune) and Abhishek Bachchan (Jaipur). The other teams are owned by Kalpathi Investments (Chennai), YES Bank Chief Executive Rana Kapoor (Delhi) and Core Green Group (Vizag).
The latest to join Pro Kabaddi is Hyderabad-based Kosmik Global Media. The company will own the franchise from Bangalore.
Mashal Sports was in talks with Den Networks, a cable distribution company from the north, for the Bangalore team. But the talks fell through when Den won the Delhi franchise in the IMG-Relaince and Star India-promoted football tournament Indian Super League.
The franchises are expected to spend an average of Rs 5 crore a year, including franchise fees, player fees, team development and marketing and promotion costs.
Sharma is confident that the people who are on board are in for the long haul.
"As in any enterprise or business that you start, you are not going to make money right away. The need right now is to invest in the sport and league. Thankfully, the financial model put forward by Charu and team is not too burdensome. So, it is an amount that people will be okay to bleed for a bit," says Bachchan, the owner of the Jaipur team.
The league, which has been launched in association with the International Kabaddi Federation, will kick off on July 26 and end on August 31. The teams will play each other on a caravan basis, much like the format of the twenty-twenty tournament the IPL.