CHENNAI: There are always questions asked when one of the many IPL-inspired leagues hit town. What kind of money are the teams losing? How long do they have to keep losing? Is there light at the end of the tunnel or are these guys just stuffing money into a bag with a hole at the other end?
The answer usually involves references to the long term for there are few franchises out there barring the IPL ones that are pulling out more money than they are putting in. For the Indian Super League, that period of patience was a decade, of which five years have already gone past. Teams have learnt how to corner sponsors better and trim expenditure but continue to lose crores every year.
For Pro Volleyball league though, that period of patience is much shorter, at least in the plans drawn up by officials. “Three years,” says DG Chaudhary, director of Ahmedabad Defenders. “We knew we wouldn’t recover anything in the first year. But after three, we are sure we will break even.”
It is a view that is echoed by Chennai Spartans’ head of branding and corporate communications Uppiliappan Gopalan. “The first two years, we are not seeing any money. It will be a development investment. It will give benefits from the third year onwards.
“The first year, it was always going to be difficult for teams to rope in sponsors. First, it’s a rural sport.
Second, people don’t want to pay money to watch volleyball. That has to change and the first two years will be spent changing that. Once you create the brand and awareness and people realise that volleyball is a sport which is in line with the speed of cricket, badminton or kabaddi, then we can start demanding sponsorship money,” Gopalan adds.
One thing that is in favour of the PVL franchises is that the amount invested is much lower than the IPL or ISL. Gopalan pegs it at around `5 crores, an amount which wouldn’t have bought ISL franchises a marquee player in their inaugural season. “If you look at the people who are involved in different franchises, it is a reasonable amount.”
But with just five days left for the first season to wrap up, Gopalan is confident that the three-year plan is a viable one. “We were skeptical at the beginning,” he says. “But now we are confident. We are already getting sponsorship, which we never thought we would get. People are talking about volleyball.”
Chennai enter semis
Chennai Spartans qualified for the semifinals with a dominant 4-1 victory over Ahmedabad Defenders. They join the two Kerala-based sides Calicut Heroes and Kochi Blue Spikers.