New Delhi: Adding to the list of private sporting leagues that have mushroomed in India, Pro Sportify, a company in the business of sports, announced the launch of Pro Wrestling League (PWL), to be held between 8 and 29 November in association with the Wrestling Federation of India, on Monday.

Pro Sportify is a venture between Kartikeya Sharma, managing director of iTV Network, and Ashish Chadha, CEO of sports rights management company Sporty Solutionz. The company has signed a partnership deal for 10 years with the Wrestling Federation of India. iTV Network operates two news channels, NewsX in English and India News in Hindi.

The wrestling league will have six city-based team franchises with 11 players each—six male and five female. The 66 wrestlers will be from the world over and will include Olympic medallists and world champions, said Chadha, director of Pro Sportify. The 21-day event will feature Olympics style freestyle wrestling bouts.

“We have already received many queries from large corporates. I feel the star power and feeling of patriotism attached to the sport is the reason for such a response," Sharma, also a director at Pro Sportify, said.

The minimum price for buying a franchise is 3 crore and the amount of money each team can spend on buying its players has been capped at 2.5 crore. The prize money has been fixed at 5 crore, out of which 3 crore will be given to the team that finishes first and 2 crore to the top players (in the male and female categories).

Commenting on strategy, Sharma said: “We need a sustainable business model where investors get a decent return on investment and a reason to continue their association with the teams and the league."

As far as revenue generation of the six franchises is concerned, in addition to raising money from individual sponsorships, all the teams will also get 60% of the revenue from the central sponsorship pool, another 60% from the sale of media rights and 75% revenue from gate sales. The franchisees will be decided by 7 September.

With the likes of Pro Kabaddi League, Indian Super League in football and the high profile, money-spinning Indian Premier League (IPL) to compete with, the organizers of PWL have started stepping up its promotion.

A budget of 35 crore has been earmarked for marketing and a Bollywood celebrity is to be roped in to endorse the sporting property.

“This is a great initiative and the country has the space for all these leagues to co-exist. However, the PWL teams should not get too greedy and think about the interests of investors for it to be successful," said Indranil Das Blah, partner in CAA KWAN, a sports entertainment and marketing company.

Blah said that apart from promotions, the choice of broadcaster is also instrumental in making the league a hit. “The success of the league depends a lot on how it is packaged and the broadcaster has a big role to play in it. For instance, Pro Kabaddi League owes a huge part of its success to Star India," he said.

PWL promoters have not finalized a broadcaster yet but will do so by 30 August.

As for the wrestlers, they are positive about the league and see it as great practice ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, to be held from 5 to 21 August in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. “With international players participating in the league, we will get the required exposure without having to go out for it," said double Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar.

The players’ auction is slated for 15 September. “Around 20 top wrestlers of the world have already signed up for the league, which includes eight world champions," Sharma added.

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