The Prime Volleyball League is hoping to be the first functional league in the country which does not have the backing of the national Federation responsible for Volleyball. The League is trying to pull off what could be an unprecedented development for the organisation of sports leagues in India.
Baseline Ventures had partnered with the Volleyball Federation of India (VFI) back in 2019, to start a league titled the Pro Volleyball League. The league debuted successfully in February 2019 with six franchises. But soon after the Federation alleged breach of trust and terminated the 10-year contract with Baseline.
Baseline ventures is now back with the Prime Volleyball League (PVL) that will be devoid of any VFI involvement. The PVL will feature 6 teams- the Calicut Heroes, the Kochi Blue Spiders, the Ahmedabad Defenders, the Hyderabad Black Hawks, the Chennai Blitz (defending champions), and finally the newest addition to the list, the Bengaluru Torpedoes.
Joy Bhattacharjya, the CEO of PVL has announced that the auction of players for this maiden edition will be held in December. The thing that will be most unique about the PVL is that the franchise owners will be the stakeholders of the league. The initiators claim that PVL is for players who are itching to return to competitive tournaments after the long break owing to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The league will feature a round-robin format and the top four teams will seal a berth in the semifinals.
The PVL has also opened a player registration portal. Foreign players including the likes of David Lee and Paul Lotman will be among the players who will make a comeback after featuring in the 2019 edition. The PVL has already roped in Sony Pictures Networks as their broadcast partner. Based on the NBA model, the franchise owners will have a huge say in how the league is run. The PVL is a very bold attempt, but there always rains a chance that the VFI might organise their own league to counter the PVL.
The Secretary of Volleyball Federation of India, Ramavtar Singh Jakhar announced that the new league would not be recognised by the governing body. According to him, the Federation has already announced its own league, the Indian Volleyball League (IVL) that is set to begin by January. He also claimed that around 100 players have already entered into an agreement with the Federation to play in the league. For Indian Volleyball players playing in the PVL, which is a private league, there is the risk of being deemed ineligible for selection for the national team or even Nationals, by the VFI.
However, the organizers of PVL clearly stated that the Indian Federation can only start its own league once a damage of around Rs 6 crore is paid to Baseline Ventures. The PVL seemed to be a bold endeavour and if it turns out to be competitive and enjoyable, it will definitely be a huge step for Indian Volleyball and Indian sports in itself. It will take some time to garner traction, but if it can establish itself as a competitive league in the country then it will be a huge help for the Indian players. Before beginning this journey, Joy Bhattacharjya posted a tweet on the 15th of September, 2021, which read,
“It’s a journey we hope will start that transformation in Indian sport that we’re all dreaming about. Support rather than control, more opportunities, both national and international, and more money and visibility in the game. It’s going to be one hell of a ride. Wish us luck!“.