Top shuttlers including Olympic medallists PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, world champion Carolina Marin and former world no 1 Victor Axelsen will headline the players’ auction in the fourth edition of the Premier Badminton League in New Delhi on Monday.

The auction this year will have an added significance with all players returning to the auction pool for the first time since 2015 with no Right To Match (RTM) cards for any teams as the league expands to nine teams with the addition of Pune franchise.

A total of 145 players listed from 23 countries will go under the hammer.

Earning himself the tag of ‘Icon Player’ for the first time based on his phenomenal track record in PBL, men’s singles stars HS Prannoy will be in great demand as the teams would look to spend their maximum purse of Rs 2.6 crore in a bid to build a formidable unit.

The other players granted the iconic status include Axelsen, Marin, Nehwal, Sindhu, Srikanth, Yong Dae, Sung Ji Hyun and Son Wan Ho.

The PBL will be held from December 22 to January 13.

There has been a sizeable increase in the number of Indian players listed for the auction – 67 of them are in fray – including Asian Junior Champion Lakshya Sen.

There would also be a quality Chinese representation with Tian Houwei returning for the second successive year while 2017 world championships men’s doubles bronze medallist Chai Biao and mixed doubles specialist Wang Sijie making their debut.

According to the rules of the auction, the teams can spend a maximum of Rs 80 lakh on one player. In case of a deadlock, the player will be assigned to a team through a draw of lots.

“The increased interest of top players in the PBL underlines the growing stature of the tournament. The fourth edition of the league is beckoning us and promises to be a far bigger and more competitive affair with the ninth team added to the roster,” BAI President and PBL chairman Himanta Biswa Sarma said.

The 23-day event will witness nine teams slug it out for a prize purse of Rs 6 crore in five cities with the inaugural rounds being held in Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Bengaluru will be the other host cities.

A total of 30 matches will be played with seven double headers.