Players’ auction, HIL postponed

The inaugural Hockey India League will begin on January 17, two weeks behind the original schedule, after its players' auction, slated for December 1 in New Delhi, was pushed back to December 16, Hockey India said on Monday.

The reason that HI has cited is the unavailability of coaches of a few franchises owing to the December 1-9 Champions Trophy in Australia.

"The decision was made in the best interest of hockey since some franchises are new to hockey and most of the coaches they were hiring were tied down with the FIH Champions Trophy in Melbourne," an HI release said.

"The Governing Council (on Saturday) decided that it would be in the best interests of all concerned to defer the auction so that all teams could have the best minds available to them at this important stage of team formation. It became inevitable that the start of Hockey India League also be deferred by a few days," the statement quoted HI secretary general Narinder Batra as saying.

Even without the aforementioned reason, a delay had looked inevitable after the New Delhi franchise-owner, Ponty Chadha of the Wave Group, was killed in a shootout on November 17.

Batra said the International Hockey Federation has been apprised of the development. "We have informed the FIH about the new dates. We have kept FIH in the loop about any development related to the league because the event has been sanctioned by them."

Ostensibly the move also gives Hockey India more time to finalise the sixth franchise, an announcement that has taken much longer than expected.

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