With the December 15 date of the inaugural edition approaching,organisers of the Indian Hockey Federation-backed World Series of Hockey made a slew of announcements on Wednesday,while also claiming that they had made advanced payment to 200 players,146 of whom are Indians.
As a show of our goodwill and serious intent,we have made advance payment to all groups and even stadiums that we have finalised have been paid booking amount, said Yannick Colaco,Chief Operating Officer of promoters Nimbus,at a press conference in the capital.
Colaco added that two franchise owners and the cities they will represent have been finalised but did not reveal their names saying all eight teams will be announced simultaneously.
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He also said that there was a mandatory clause for team owners to make commitments to develop the game at the junior level.
Though he accepted that a key problem was to find business groups who understood hockey and knew how to manage and run a team in this sport,he insisted that the initiative would do better than Premier Hockey League or even the Indian Cricket League because all of the country’s top-50 players have signed up.
He also claimed that star players form other countries,such as Spain,Argentina and Pakistan have also joined the WSH.
India coach Michael Nobbs had recently said that the Australian players joining the WSH were national discards,second-rate old players and wondered who would flock the stadiums to watch such a competition.
But the league organisers are defending that claim. WSH’s technical director Dennis Meredith reacted to Nobbs’s statement by saying: Centres like Chandigarh and Bangalore are reputed to fill the stadia for hockey. There are no big Australian names because they are locked till London Olympics in a contract and cannot participate. This year’s Dutch league also saw participation from very few foreign players and there has to be an understanding why some big names may not be available.
Added Colaco: They were busy this year but Ric Charlesworth has himself said to me that he will
recommend it to Australian players next year. If there are 60 top players in the world,we can’t get all of them but this is a good start.
Colaco,meanwhile,also informed that the format of the competition will have home and away games for the eight teams making it 56 matches in the group phase,with the top four teams meeting in the semifinal. The title will be decided on the basis of best of three finals,with two matches being played at the higher seed’s home ground. There will be a cap of six foreign players among the 25 that the team can buy.