WFI takes ownership of Pro Wrestling League, aims at a late-2022 comeback
The Wrestling Federation of India has grabbed the ownership of the Pro Wrestling League by signing a 'settlement contract' with ProSportify for Rs 30 crore and is looking to restart the halted event.
The Wrestling Federation of India has grabbed the ownership of the Pro Wrestling League by signing a 'settlement contract' with ProSportify for Rs 30 crore and is negotiating a deal to restart the now-halted event later this year.
The league, which gained popularity for the sheer quality that came with the presence of established international stars, completed four seasons after the inaugural edition in 2015. It has been learnt that leading broadcaster Star Sports had expressed interest in buying the league in 2019, offering a staggering Rs 60 crore.
However, Sportify wanted no less than Rs 70 crore for the property. The WFI was playing the role of a mediator but then COVID-19 struck and sporting activities came to a halt. The negotiations and the league both stopped after that. The WFI used to gain a 'royalty sum' which was Rs one crore for the first season and later it became Rs six crore for every season.
"The settlement contract has been signed. WFI pays the amount to Sportify in instalments. It is now Federation's property," a source privy to the development told PTI.
Asked how the WFI arranged the funds, the source said, "The federation used the money which it had earned through royalty." It has also been learnt that one final settlement instalment of Rs four crore is yet to be paid and will be cleared soon.
PWL set for end-2022 return
The six-team event is most likely to return later this year with the WFI making efforts to find a new buyer soon.
"The WFI is negotiating with two-three companies. After careful consideration of all the offers, we will decide who gets the ownership. But we are keen to re-start the league in off-season later this year," said a WFI official.
Six teams had competed in the league between 2015 and 2019, with the Mumbai franchise winning the title in 2017 and 2018. Three Rio Olympics champions -- Georgia's Vladimer Khinchengashivli (Rio, 2016) American Helen Maroulis and Russian Soslan Ramonov -- competed in the league.
Three-time world champion and Rio Olympic bronze medallist Haji Aliyev, who won a silver at the Tokyo Games, was also a huge attraction. He had competed for MP Yodha. Three-time world medallist Epp Mae featured in the UP side.
India's biggest stars such as Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik also featured in the event. The league offered a prize purse of Rs 3 crore in 2019 with the winning team getting Rs 1.9 crore and the runners-up Rs 1.1 crore.