Pro Kabaddi: Mashal Sports invites tenders to own & manage new team

MUMBAI: Mashal Sports, in which Star Sports owns 74% stake, has, pursuant to the Invitation for Expression of Interest dated 29 March, has called for expressions of interest (“EOI”) to be submitted by eligible persons, fulfilling the criteria provided for in the Invitation, who wish to participate in a competitive bidding process proposed to be run for the award of the rights to own, operate and manage a proposed new franchise team which will compete in the Pro Kabaddi League owned and operated by Mashal (“PKL”) from and including the PKL seasons to be held in 2017 onwards, on such terms and conditions as agreed with Mashal.

Pro Kabaddi is now set to expand to up to four new geographies. With the addition of the new teams, Pro Kabaddi is gearing up to surpass other Indian sports leagues in terms of geographic representation (teams from 11 states), number of matches (130+ matches), and duration of the league (13 weeks) in Season 5.

The intended new states for Pro Kabaddi have been selected very carefully. Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat have been primarily chosen for their high affinity towards Kabaddi with massive fan bases, significant on-ground presence of the sport, and potential commercial value to sponsors and advertisers. Both Haryana and Tamil Nadu contribute large number of players to Pro Kabaddi, as well as leading public sector teams in the country. Along with Uttar Pradesh, these states have a rich cultural tradition of highly popular local Kabaddi tournaments. The intrinsic popularity of Kabaddi in India has been most recently demonstrated in Gujarat where the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup has led to a huge surge in public following of Kabaddi.

Pro Kabaddi became an instant hit with Indian sports fans in its very first season in 2014 as 435 million* viewers tuned in. This modern league in India’s ancient sport of Kabaddi has continued to grow from strength to strength in subsequent seasons. Its cumulative viewership growth of 51 per cent over four seasons is the highest for any sports league in India. Within a short span of 2 years, Pro Kabaddi has captured the imagination of Indian viewers and established itself as one of the highest impact television properties in key markets. It has even surpassed IPL in Andhra Pradesh and also achieved primetime slot leadership in Mumbai.

Significantly, the high popularity of Pro Kabaddi as well as 2016 Kabaddi World Cup has evoked continually surging sponsor interest. Pro Kabaddi Season 4 had a total of 64 league and franchise sponsors on board. This fast growing interest from sponsors from diverse sectors of the economy mirrors Kabaddi’s pan-India appeal – cutting across key consumer segments from metropolitan markets to heartland as well as pan-geographical regions. In a remarkably strong endorsement of Kabaddi, the latest edition of an annual report jointly prepared by the leading media investment advisory firm ESP Properties and Sportzpower, a provider of sports business news, states, “…in terms of absolute numbers added to the Sports Sponsorship pie, India’s ancient contact team sport was THE story of 2016.”

“Even for an optimist like me, the response we have seen for Kabaddi is surprising. Having seen its affinity in the country, it would be a disservice to the sport if we do not grow it further. All stakeholders have decided to come together to expand the league and given the pace at which this is growing, it might be just the first in a series of expansions in the coming years”, said Star India chairman and CEO Uday Shankar.

A father figure to Indian Kabaddi, International Kabaddi Federation president Janardan Singh Gehlot stated, “Pro Kabaddi is a truly unique example of how a modern league has transformed the much loved but traditional Kabaddi into a modern sport. Star Sports as well as Mashal have created a magnificent example for the growth of India as multi-sport nation.”

An All India Kabaddi player hunt 2017 was organised by Mashal Sports in association with AKFI as part of its talent development programme across 14 cities in India. Over 4600 participants between the age groups of 18 to 22 years got a chance to showcase their Kabaddi talent. This initiative will play an important role in catalysing the on-ground Kabaddi eco-system and providing a future pipeline of players.

Mashal Sports is inviting Expression of Interest from reputable corporate entities having a vision for investing in the overall development of the sport from the ground up and participating in the success of PKL through their active involvement as a franchise team. Mashal Sports will shortlist selected interested participants and invite them to participate in a transparent tender process. The selection of the winning bidders will be done by a panel of eminent people based on both qualitative and financial criteria. The process is expected to be completed by 5 May, 2017 providing enough time for the new franchise to prepare for Season 5 starting in July 2017.

Details of Invitation for Expression of Interest:
Every EOI in response to the Invitation must be submitted, in accordance with the Invitation, by no later than 11:59 pm IST on 9 April, 2017. Such EOI must be submitted by way of an email (with all relevant attachments) to Every EOI submitted pursuant to the Invitation must contain all of the following information and documents:

Corporate Profile: A brief overview of the background and history of the bidder, its group and affiliates including promoter and current business and operations.

PKL Proposal: A brief description of bidder’s reasons for wanting to participate in the PKL, plans for the growth and development of the sport of kabaddi, PKL and the team.

Sports Experience: Details of any previous experience in any sports related activity, including participation in any sporting leagues, sports sponsorships, sporting bodies, academies or otherwise.

Certificates: (a) Net worth certificate furnished by a chartered accountant certifying the Net worth of the bidder (or of the parent) as of March 31, 2016, and (b) a certificate executed by an authorized signatory of the bidder certifying compliance with the fit and proper criteria listed below.

Consortium Information: Details of each consortium member, and a description of each member’s interest in the consortium, including effective voting / controlling interest and economic interest, and identification of the lead member and representative All of the information and documents listed in (a) to (d) above must be provided in respect of each member of the consortium.

The EOI must contain a certificate, duly executed by the authorized signatory of the bidder (in the case of an EOI submitted by a consortium, duly executed by the authorized signatory of each member of the consortium), certifying each of the following with respect to each bidder and each member of the consortium:

None of the bidder, its affiliates or any of its or their respective directors, partners, executives or key managerial personnel (each, an “Identified Person”) have been convicted by a court of any offence involving moral turpitude, economic offence, securities laws or fraud;

No application for winding up, liquidation, bankruptcy or insolvency has been admitted by any court of competent jurisdiction against any Identified Person;

None of the Identified Persons have been declared insolvent or bankrupt or is subject to striking off, disqualification or de-recognition by any professional body or authority;

None of the Identified Persons are currently, or have previous been, banned by the governing body of any sport from involvement in the administration of or any form of participation in such sport, for any reason;

None of the Identified Persons own any form of interest (whether by way of shares, units, securities or any other form of voting or economic interest) in any club, league, team or organization, which is or has previously been expelled from any competition organized by or under the auspices or sanction of any governing body or authority for any sport;

None of the Identified Persons are, or have previously been involved or interested in, in any manner, the production or provision of goods or services which are illegal; and

None of the Identified Persons are in default of any of their obligations to a financial institution or have defaulted on any of its obligations to a financial institution in the last 3 (three) financial years.

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