BAI’s PBL expanded to nine teams with addition of Pune team

MUMBAI: In a bid to expand the Premier Badminton League (PBL) further, the Badminton Association of India (BAI) is introducing a new team for the fourth edition of the league, having its highest prize money.

The city of Pune will join the bandwagon to make the event a nine-team affair from the forthcoming season. The Pune team has been baptized as Pune Seven Aces and is owned by popular Bollywood actress, Taapsee Pannu, and KRI.

The league is owned by BAI and is organised by Sportzlive, the official license holders under the aegis of the BAI.

Echoing the thoughts, BAI president and PBL chairman Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “The number of people getting inclined towards badminton in this country has witnessed a steep rise in the last few years. PBL especially has been instrumental for such a development. The League started off with six teams in Season 1 and now we have nine franchisees within a span of three years, which is an incredible feat. I am confident we will continue to increase the popularity of the sport and PBL will continue to make waves all across in the future too.”

The upcoming season will begin from 22 December to 13 January 2019 and will be played across five cities, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, and Bengaluru. Mumbai will host the opening ceremony of the fourth edition.

“We will see a mix of doubleheaders and single clashes this season as all the nine teams will vie for the crown. The new season will also witness some of our young shuttlers like reigning Junior World Champion Lakshya Sen making his foray into the Elite League. With the auction taking place on October 8, the PBL has opened up new vistas for promising players and will act as a springboard in the development of Indian badminton,” said SportzLive Executive Director Atul Pandey.

The league which offers a prize purse of Rs 6 crore was an eight-team competition last year with Delhi Dashers (Delhi), Mumbai Rockets (Mumbai), Awadhe Warriors (Lucknow), Hyderabad Hunters (Hyderabad), Chennai Smashers (Chennai), Bengaluru Raptors (Bengaluru) Ahmedabad Smash Masters (Ahmedabad) and North Eastern Warriors (North East) fighting for the top honours.

Hyderabad, led by 2016 Olympic Champion Carolina Marin, had claimed the winning purse last season. In Season 3, the league attracted 60 world class players, including nine Olympic medallists and a pool of talented Indian players in the line-up for the league.

With Star Sports as Official Broadcaster, the league has seen over 40 million viewers hooked on to watching the action Live besides following the matches globally on Hotstar. The biggest boost for the organisers was getting the fans to the stadium and Season 3 saw a gate revenue over one crore.

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