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Why is Mahesh Bhupathi so coy about his tennis league?

Tuesday, 4 March 2014 - 9:00am IST | Agency: dna

  • Mahesh Bhupathi

On Sunday (March 3), IMG-Reliance which is inaugurating a new soccer super league in India floated advertisements in all leading newspapers in the country inviting bids (ITB) to own teams for the league. The prominent ad listed all the details of the league, names of cities that would have franchises, timing and how the bidding will be held. This is the process by which new sports properties or any new venture for that matter are launched. For such events, credibility is of primary importance, since it is privately run and there is no one to underwrite its credibility, apart from the AIFF in this case which has just sanctioned the league but is not running it, unlike the BCCI which runs the IPL.

But no such transparency accompanies the tennis league floated by Mahesh Bhupati, some details of which were released on Sunday. The organisers believed to be Bhupathi and the sports marketing company he owns, has not revealed any details of the money involved, who owns the teams, nor how the auction was held, if at all. We have been presented with names of players who will be part of the league which will be held after the season ending masters in November. No one is aware of who owns the teams, who pays them, what the rules are. In fact, we know nothing at all. Reports in a UK paper suggests that Rafael Nadal will get a million dollars as appearance money per night.

This is awesome money. But who is paying for it? Bhupathi will hopefully answer all the questions about the league or the doubts surrounding the following issues which are all the more important considering the muck that surrounds the IPL now, despite everything being done in the open.

Secretive auction
Why wasn't the player auction televised live to make the entire process transparent? Or Was there an auction at all and who paid for it? If some players are getting appeareance money how is it a league?

Secretive owners
From where did the $24 million come for in the auction – why have the names of the owners and investors not been made public yet? Who would put money into a league without wanting any promotions or publicity for the company or the brand?

Operations from Dubai
Why are all the operations of this league carried out from Dubai and Monaco, places known as being tax havens?

Who manages the event?
The only known fact is that Mahesh Bhupathi is the driving force behind this league. Who else is behind the show?

No tenders
There were no advertisements or tenders floated before the auction, which is a norm. As stated above the IMG-Reliance's India Super League football is floating tenders for its league.

It will be in the interest of the league if Bhupati clears all issues, rules and financial matters surrounding the conduct of the league as soon as possible, now that the names of players have been announced. Surely a league of this nature cannot be seen to be run by a cosy club of shady millionaires.

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