With the talks on its merger with Hockey India stuck, the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) on Thursday went ahead and announced the schedule of its flagship "professional league", the World Series Hockey (WSH) - one of the points on which the two bodies do not see eye to eye.
Whether the latest announcement by the IHF and its partner, Nimbus Communications, will further scupper the unification process is to be seen.
To be held from December 15 to January 22, the league will comprise eight city-based franchises that will play on a league-cum-playoff basis for a total prize fund of $3 million (Rs 13.35 crore). Six of the eight teams will be based in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Punjab. Two cities will be picked later and the teams will be sold to eight franchises - four of them through competitive bidding. Nimbus also announced eight players - Sardar Singh, Arjun Halappa, Adrian D'Souza, Prabhjot Singh, Lucas Vila (Argentina), Brent Livermore (Australia), Rehan Butt (Pakistan) and Rodrigo Garza Barbero (Spain) - as designated captains.
The decks were cleared after Nimbus and the international hockey federation (FIH) reached a compromise that allowed players signed before March 31, 2011 to participate. "We impressed upon the FIH that it can't restrict any player from taking part in the league and got a written undertaking that there would be no action against players who have been signed before March 31," said Harish Thawani, executive-chairman, Nimbus.