6-team UTT sports 4 new owners; Dempo on board

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NEW DELHI: In what can be termed a complete overhaul, Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT), an initiative by the Vita Dani and Niraj Bajaj co-promoted 11Sports, will see ownership changes among four franchises of the six-team league.

As already reported, the Kotak Group’s Insurekot Sports, which also runs Pro Kabaddi League franchise Puneri Paltan, will own the Pune team, replacing DHFL. The Pune team, which was earlier called Maharashtra United, will reportedly see a name change to Puneri Paltan. As for the Mumbai franchise, Ronnie Screwvala's USports will replace Warriors TTC as Mumbai team owners.

Additionally, Chennai will get a new team - Chennai Lions - as they replace Falcons TTC, New Indian Express reports.

But when it comes to sporting heritage however, arguably the most credible addition to UTT's ownership roster is the Dempo Group, which has contributed richly to Indian football. Dempo SC, formerly a part of the I-League, had won five titles while the company also co-owned ISL franchise FC Goa.

Dempo has acquired a 90% stake in Empowerji Challengers, which will be rechristened Goa Challengers, the daily reports.

Explaining his decision, Dempo chairman Shrinivas Dempo told New Indian Express: “It’s a very popular sport in Goa. Being a family which has always supported sports, we thought we should go for it. It is not a very investment-intensive sport so it was not that big a risk as maybe running a football outfit. The payback period for table tennis is much shorter as the initial investment is less and if the league hits the right chords, sponsorship won’t be an issue. We are in for the long haul and three-five years is the going to be the break-even period.”

Another change in store for the third edition of UTT, which starts on July 25, is that the league is set to be restricted to the capital New Delhi, unlike in the earlier two seasons where the competition had been held in Mumbai and Chennai.

The organisers remain bullish about the league’s prospects despite so many dropouts. “We still have two franchises reposing their faith in us, the RP-SG group with RP-SG Mavericks Kolkata and the DO IT Sports Management group with Dabang Delhi TTC, who are the reigning champions. New teams coming in despite other owners backing out only goes on to further strengthen our resolve,” Hiren Mody, UTT vice-president, told the daily.

For the record, UTT is a six-team league and boasts Star Sports, Hotstar, Jio as broadcast partners.

Related Report:
UTT: Mumbai, Pune franchises see ownership changes