Two new concepts the introduction of the third umpire and best-of-three final -- will add flavour to the second edition of the Premier Hockey League, scheduled to be held in Chandigarh next year.
The other attraction of the event, slated to be played from January 5 to February 1, 2006, will be the participation of more foreign players besides the inclusion of a new team, Rourkela Steelers, in the Tier II of the league.
"The third umpire system will be introduced in hockey for the first time. We are working out the role of the third umpire," Indian Hockey Federation president KPS Gill said at a press conference in Delhi on Saturday.
"As many as 15 foreign players will take part in the PHL. But it has not been decided how many players from which countries will be invited.
"We have decided to rest Bengal Tigers after a lackluster performance last year. Rourkela Steelers will take their place in Tier II," the IHF chief said.
Also, Chandigarh Dynamos have been promoted to the Tier I in place of Chennai Veerans.
Considering the chilly weather of Chandigarh in January, the matches will be played early evening, from 6.30 pm.
Maurits Hendricks, current coach of Spain, has been appointed as consultant.
Gill said the Sector 42 stadium at Chandigarh is capable of organising the PHL and floodlights would be installed soon.
"It's in good shape and has the capability of organising a hockey league of this stature. The floodlights will be installed at the stadium well before the PHL," he added.
ESPN Star Sports' managing director R C Venkateish said the inaugural PHL had been a huge marketing success for the company.
"PHL gained high TRP ratings like cricket. In Orissa it was the highest with five points followed by Punjab with 3.4 points.
"So, we have finalised a comprehensive marketing plan with a high decibel campaign to catch the viewers," he added.
Venkateish said the schedule of the league has been finalised and it would host Tier I matches every evening on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday for four weeks.
About the new team in the league, he said considering the huge following of hockey in Orissa and Jharkhand, "we decided to introduce the Rourkela Steelers".
"Keeping in view the popularity of hockey in the region we decided to field that team and bulk of the players of the side will be from that area," he observed.
Bangalore Hi-Fliers, Maratha Warriors, Hyderabad Sultans, Sher-e-Jalandhar and Chandigarh Dynamos will play in Tier I while Delhi Dazzlers, Lucknow Nawabs, Chennai Veerans, Rourkela Steelers and Imphal Rangers will be in Tier II.