The Champions Tennis League (CTL), in only its first year, is failing to attract spectators. Reliable sources have told HT that the organisers have told online retailers, bookmyshow.com, that majority of tickets will go free. Apparently, Mumbai and Pune leg tickets are still for sale as the team owners are pushing their own sales.
On Wednesday, the eve of the CTL matches at the Chandigarh Lawn Tennis Association (CLTA) complex, the Punjab franchise, Punjab Marshalls, decided to give away tickets - priced at Rs 600, Rs 1000 and Rs 2000 - for free.
The reason: The organisers were finding it difficult to fill the venue that has a modest capacity of 2,000. Not just that, it is also reliably learnt that the organisers are refunding money of the few tennis enthusiasts who have bought tickets, as it could create a 'divide'. However, they get an extra free ticket from the organisers along with the refund.
Though initially the organisers offered discounted tickets to CLTA trainees and their parents, there was tepid response, leading them to give them away for free in the name of "promotion of tennis".
HT had highlighted on Monday, the inaugural day of the CTL, that the RK Khanna Stadium which hosted the Delhi Dreams vs Punjab Marshalls tie, had negligible attendance even though the likes of Leander Paes, Jelena Jankovic and Juan Carlos Ferrero were playing. On Tuesday, the turnout was 'slightly better' as the organisers had invited school kids to fill the seats.
If this setback was not enough for the Punjab franchise, they suffered another jolt with British player of Canadian origin, captain Greg Rusedski, pulling out because of a foot injury.
After David Ferrer, who failed to turn up for the league because of an injury, this was the second big loss for the Marshalls. Rusedski had played in the inaugural match in Delhi.
Rusedski's withdrawal has only added to Paes' burden, who apart from playing the doubles and mixed doubles games, will also have to play the legends category singles.