After the success of the Mumbai Indians cricket team and the first season of the Reliance-IMG football league only a few weeks away; sources say that Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) is likely to become the next big name to join the Hockey India League.
It is said that the business house will be replacing Dabur as the new owner of the Mumbai franchise, after the latter terminated its contract with Hockey India. A source revealed,”As per the recent developments, there are discussions being held with the Reliance Group to take over the Mumbai franchise. An official confirmation is expected within a month.”
It is believed that the Dabur Group decided to pull out of the league due to financial reasons. However, Hockey India denies such claims even while it has been trying to find a new replacement owner.
The source adds, “After the success of the first two editions, the top officials were looking at expanding the league in the next season. So, after the Mumbai franchise pulled out, they did not want the team to be removed and hence started looking for possible owners to replace them. However, there is nothing confirmed as yet.”
Setback for Hockey India
While the league was looking at expanding from 6 to 8 teams in the forthcoming season, it suffered a huge setback after 2 of the 6 franchises decided to withdraw. In addition to the Mumbai Magicians, the Ranchi Rhinos also exited because of an alleged tiff over the franchise fee with Hockey India.
While the players from the Mumbai team have already signed new forms for the mini-auction that is scheduled for the coming month, the players from Ranchi are yet to be informed about their future in the league. A player from Ranchi Rhinos says, “We have only received an email from Hockey India stating that the Ranchi owners have withdrawn. There was no mention about the auction. We are yet to sign the auction forms.”
Entry of a New Franchise
Meanwhile, good news comes in the form of an official announcement by Hockey India of the inclusion of a new franchise representing Pune in the league. With the inclusion of the league, there are now 5 teams that will battle for the leadership position in the Hockey India League. The Pune team has been bought by Anirban Sarkar, owner of Deccan Water Treatment Private Limited.
RIL’s Tryst with Sports
If talks between RIL and Hockey India are successful, this will be another feather in the hat for the business giant’s involvement in the sporting world.
It is the vision of Nita Ambani, Chairperson of Reliance Foundation, to help the nation connect with sports and inspire people to follow their dreams. In addition to RIL’s cricketing success in the Indian Premier League, this vision manifested in the form of a Reliance-IMG joint venture known as the Indian Super League, a football extravaganza scheduled to start next month. RIL is also involved with the Asian Junior Table Tennis Championships that currently being hosted in Mumbai.