Baseline Ventures are no more interested to regain the rights of the Volleyball League. But the sports management company that had launched the high profile league as the commercial partners of the Volleyball Federation of India will continue with the arbitral proceedings for a compensation multi-crore rupee compensation.
The company, however, is also fighting to retain the the Pro Volleyball logo and other associated intellectual properties.
The sports management company has already got a relief of ₹ 2.25 crore on account of the damages caused by the termination of the Pro Volleyball League contract.
After the Baseline Ventures had submitted before the arbitrator, Justice (Retd) K Kannan, that the company is not interested in regaining the rights to conduct the league, the arbitrator had given a nod to the VFI to conduct the professional volleyball league. The VFI is also free to call for fresh tenders.
The arbitrator had in January ruled in favour of Baseline Ventures and barred the federation from initiating any process to organise the league. However, following Baseline Ventures’ submission that the company is not interested in the rights, Justice (Retd) Kannan had reversed his earlier order.
Baseline Ventures will though continue its fight against unlawful termination of the contract on the basis of an “inconclusive” PWC statement about the company’s accounts. The document presented at the VFI AGM to terminate as the Baseline Ventures audit report, SportzFront has reliably learnt, has itself been dismissed by PWC as a “incomplete confidential information” that was a “mere report and not an audited paper on the company’s accounts”.
SportzFront has also learnt that the multinational audit and law firm had asked the VFI to withdraw the document from all forums.
Baseline Ventures in its defence had already produced its accounts statement, duly audited by Deloitte.
After having been denied the continuity to conduct the league, Baseline Ventures found little business sense in launching the product yet again. The company also had other strong ground to let VFI take the league’s rights and “compensate it for the damages”.
“The termination was unlawful. Furthermore, it has inflicted irreparable damage to a product that we created with immense integrity, investment and efforts,” said Tuhin Mishra, Managing Directors and Co-founder, Baseline Ventures.
Baseline Vantures would also be concerned about the fact that several Pro Volleyball franchisees have initiated legal proceedings against the federation for breach of contract. The federation itself is conflict-ridden with two bodies, two presidents and two secretaries engaged in a legal battle in a double bench of the Madras High Court.
One faction is claiming victory over Baseline Ventures in the arbitral proceedings. And the other faction, led by Member of Parliament Dr Anil Agarwal is recognised by the Indian Olympic Association.
VFI has now regained all its rights with regard to the professional volleyball league. But, a verdict on Baseline Ventures’ claim for damages is still pending.
The league also doesn’t seem in sight anytime soon for numerous reasons. Besides the disputes and legal battles within the federation, the threat mounted by COVID-19 pandemic will take longer than expected for the business of sports to get back on track.