The second edition of the Pro Volleyball League has hit a roadblock after the Volleyball Federation of India started dilly-dallying on giving specific dates while attempting to get more financial control over the league’s functioning.
The federation is insisting that the PVL Governing Council should appoint the CEO and other staff for the league and any expenditure above Rs 1 lakh has to be approved by them.
VFI had signed a 10-year contract with Baseline Ventures to conduct the league and the inaugural edition was held successfully in February 2019. Baseline was keen on hosting the second edition in November this year as they felt it was an ideal period to conduct the league. But now it seems that holding the event even in February 2020 would be difficult.
It is learned that the problem started when VFI alleged that the accounts were manipulated by the rights holder to purposely show a loss from the first season. According to the agreement, the federation is entitled to receive 50% of the Season’s Net Profit earned.
However, responding to the charges of manipulation (a copy of which has been accessed by Scroll.in), Baseline said, “It is also laughable that Mr [Ramavtar Singh] Jhakar being the secretary general does not appreciate that the loss in Season 1 to PVL is solely due to the fees amounting Rs 3.5 crores, paid by the Company to VFI in Season 1. VFI has already earned Rs 3.5 crores in Season 1 whereas the company has incurred a loss of Rs 2.66 crores in the same season.”
The Rs 3.5 crore paid to VFI include the signing amount and fee for Season 1.
Scroll.in has also seen the communication from VFI and minutes of the meeting between VFI and Baseline over the issue.
League CEO Joy Bhattacharjya told Scroll.in that they had been asking VFI to substantiate their claims since the allegations were made. “We submitted the accounts on July 18. But VFI hasn’t come back to us with any specific query. We will be happy to answer any specific points they raise about the account statement.”
Bhattacharjya has also sent a letter to Jakhar on October 14, 2019 in which he insisted that no league makes profits in the first year and not just Baseline but all the franchise owners have lost money in the first season.
“The only people to have made money is the VFI which made Rs 3.5 crores, already deposited in their account and the volleyball players who for the first time were paid very decent sums of money,” Bhattacharjya wrote in the letter.
The VFI had started a league back in 2011 but it had folded after the first season due to a lack of response. However, PVL received a good response in the cities where the games were held and the organisers were looking forward to cashing in on that this year.
The International Volleyball Federation has been keeping a close watch on the developments in India and has written to the VFI to sort out the matter at the earliest.
The Indian men’s team recently qualified for the Asian Olympic Qualification tournament by finishing among the top eight nations in the Asian Men’s championship and FIVB is keen that the development of Indian volleyball continues further.
In a mail sent on October 14 to VFI president S Vasudevan, FIVB Sports Development Department representative Hitesh Malhotra also sought clarity on the PVL Season 2 dates and other development projects VFI was supposed to conduct with Baseline.
However, VFI is yet to respond to the letter from Malhotra or Bhattacharjya, who had asked for a meeting soon to sort out the issues that are delaying the start of Season 2.
Bhattacharjya also said: “For the games to be held this season, Feb 7th is the last date available with Sony after we missed the November and January dates... and if this league does not start in February 2020, I can tell you with cast-iron certainty that it will not happen in the near future, given the legal and financial implications and the continued controversies surrounding the VFI in the last few years.”
Calls and messages to Jakhar went unanswered. The copy will be updated if and when he responds.