The US$1 million Indian Badminton League (IBL) on June 24 to July 11 is expected to attract a host of top shuttlers, including World No 1 Lee Chong Wei as the world body has provided it a clear window in the annual calendar.
The inaugural event, modelled on cricket's cash-rich Indian Premier League, is a joint initiative between the BA of India (BAI) and its commercial partner Sporty Solutionz Private Ltd.
The IBL, comprising six teams, will be held in six major cities. Each team can sign up to four foreign players with two available to play in the best-of-five tie on the format of the Sudirman Cup.
"We will be announcing the six franchise teams next month from 29 bidders. The players' auction will be held on March 24," said Sporty Solutionz CEO Ashish Chadha.
The base price for the auction of the top six ranked shuttlers has been fixed at US$50,000 followed by those ranked between seven and 12 at US$25,000. Players will be contracted for five years.
"The bids for top shuttlers could reach US$100,000. The BA of Malaysia has agreed to send its top shuttlers, including Olympic silver medal winner Lee Chong Wei. Indonesia have agreed while South Korea will send some of their players.
"BAI has approached the China BA and if everything goes well, we could see two-time Olympic gold medallist Lin Dan and other shuttlers in India. We should get an answer in two weeks. Shuttlers from Europe have agreed,"
"Like in the Sudirman Cup, each tie will have men's and women's singles; men's and women's doubles and mixed doubles," said Ashish.
When asked why the event was limited to six teams, Ashish said it was a good number for an inaugural event. "We will increase the number of teams accordingly for future editions," he added.
India's national coach P Gopichand said: "I expect some big names to compete for honours. It will also provide a great opportunity for Indian players to gauge themselves against the best."
Each franchisee will play a minimum of five ties and there will be 25 league matches, two semi-finals and a final.