NEW DELHI: The Indian Super League took another major step towards its launch on Sunday as the likes of Spanish Liga club Atletico Madrid, cricket legends Sachin Tendulkar (pictured) and Sourav Ganguly and Bollywood stars were confirmed as owners of the eight teams that will compete in the new football competition.
The IMG-Reliance agency, pay-television broadcaster Star India and the All India Football Federation (AIFF) unveiled the eight ‘league partners’ following a bidding process that was opened last month. Bids were invited for prospective teams in the nine cities of Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Guwahati, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune. Organisers have elected not to place a team in Chennai.
Indian conglomerate the Sun Group has acquired Bangalore’s team, cable television distribution company DEN Networks has secured Delhi’s franchise and Goa’s has been landed by a consortium including Indian conglomerate Videocon Industries.
Bollywood star John Abraham has joined forces with existing I-League club Shillong Lajong for Guwahati’s team. Ganguly, a former India Test captain, will team up with La Liga leader Atletico and three Indian businessmen to co-own the team of his home city of Kolkata. Indian cricket icon Tendulkar has invested in Kochi’s team with PVP Ventures, a company which has interests in real estate, media and also finances film projects.
Finally Bollywood’s Ranbir Kapoor and Bimal Parekh have secured Mumbai’s franchise, while another Bollywood figure in the shape of Salman Khan has joined forces with Indian conglomerate the Wadhawan Group for Pune’s team.
Praful Patel, president of the AIFF, said: “This day will go down in memory as a special day for Indian football as eight high profile celebrities and corporates are being introduced into the sport through Indian Super League. With IMG Reliance and Star providing the perfect foundation, the league has become an unstoppable force which would change Indian football. I hope the grassroots obligations of the franchises give a huge push to the development of the game. Along with the world class infrastructure that is being created for the (2017) Under 17 Fifa World Cup, and AIFF’s expression of interest to host 2015 and 2016 Fifa Club World Cups, Indian football is definitely turning a new leaf in its history.”
Miguel Angel Gil Marin, owner of Atletico Madrid, said in a statement: “I am very excited to have won the Kolkata franchise of the ISL and being the first international team to be directly owning a club in India we along with our Indian partners and IMG-Reliance aim to revolutionise football in the country.”
The inaugural season of the ISL club competition was due to start in January, but in October was postponed for eight months. The league, which is being developed by IMG-Reliance – a joint venture between the IMG agency and Indian conglomerate Reliance – is now set to run in a permanent September to November window.
The league aims to revolutionise the sport in India, offering Indian football greater global exposure and eventually helping the national team qualify for the 2026 World Cup.
READ MORE AT: