Their Twitter page still loudly claims “We will be back.” Ranchi Rhinos though may not.
Champions of the first edition and third in the second of the Hockey India League (HIL), a competition inspired by the Indian T20 league, the team’s owners have decided to pull the plug unless the current arrangement between the team owners and Hockey India is reviewed.
There have been reports that Mumbai Magicians too want to pull out meaning the Rhinos could be the second team to withdraw from the third edition which is scheduled early next year. Hockey India has been informed of the Rhinos’ decision, it was learnt.
Speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to talk to the media, a Rhinos official told HT on Thursday the owners have lost nearly “ Rs 10 to 15 crore for the development of hockey in India but the lethargic approach of the federation has disappointed us. We requested a number of times to the authority to change its format and encourage franchises. But our suggestions weren’t heeded.”
Suresh Kumar Chauhan, chairman of the Uniexcel Group, a co-owner of the franchise said: “We are looking at the long-term picture and we feel it’s not going to be easy for the HIL franchises to break even, even in the coming few years, due to the current structure of the franchisee arrangement and lack of initiative in inviting sponsors. Taking stock of the previous two seasons and seeing that not much has changed by way of structured marketing of the hockey league, unlike other leagues recently introduced, which are more congenial to franchisee profitability, there doesn’t seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel.”
Another franchisee official, also requesting anonymity, said most team owners have lost Rs 10 crore per season and that’s an amount higher than what they had expected.
Like with the Mumbai team, it is possible that Rhinos’ players would be put up for auction ahead of the third season. Unconfirmed reports said Hockey India is trying to find a replacement for the Mumbai franchise and another team from Pune.
The Ranchi Rhinos franchise was jointly bought by the Patel-PS Group and Uniexcel Group in September 2012. The Uniexcel Group is headquartered in Taiwan with offices in China, Dubai, Africa and Bangladesh. The PS Group is a Kolkata-based real estate major with varied business interests, while the Patel Group is based in Bangalore. Last season, the team was led by twice Olympic gold medal winner Moritz Fuerste of Germany.