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Volleyball Federation of India cancels contract with Pro Volleyball League partner

Players reach for the volleyball over the net (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

The Volleyball Federation of India has cancelled its contract with sports marketing agency Baseline Ventures under which the two organisations run the franchise-based Pro Volleyball League.

Baseline Ventures has been helping the VFI run the league under a 10-year deal. The inaugural edition took place in February this year.

The VFI said the second edition of the league will still go ahead, with a delayed start date in February next year, and it will be under a new name. It added that the venues, the names of the six to eight franchise teams taking part, and the broadcaster for season two will be announced soon.

In a press release, the VFI said it had “unanimously decided to hold season 2 of the volleyball league in the name of the Indian Volleyball League (IVL)/National Volleyball League (NVL) from the 25th February 2020 onwards by the Volleyball Federation of India. It was also decided to issue amicable settlement/termination notice to Baseline Ventures…with immediate effect since they have breached the agreement.”

News website Scroll.in reported last month that the VFI accused Baseline of manipulating the accounts from the first season of the league to make it show a loss. The VFI and Baseline were to split any profits 50-50 under their contract.

Baseline had rejected the accusation, and said the first season losses were due to INR35m ($490,000) it had paid to PVL as a signing fee and as a fee for season one. Baseline said it had incurred total losses of INR26.6m in the first season, and that only parties to have made money from it were the VFI and the participating players.

The FIVB had written to the VFI urging it to resolve the situation.

Last week, the two parties appeared to have settled their differences. They jointly announced the second season would start on February 7th, and that Ary Graça, president of the International Volleyball Federation, would attend the final.

The Sportstar news website reported that Joy Bhattacharjya, chief executive of Baseline Ventures, said the latest VFI move had been a “complete surprise given that only on November 1 at a meeting in New Delhi the VFI President and VFI Secretary, FIVB Secretary and Baseline Ventures had all agreed to hold the PVL on February 7, 2020…We await a formal communication from VFI.”