Will Shah Rukh Khan be able to expand his Kolkata Knight Riders franchise beyond cricket? Or will his bid be squashed by Sourav Ganguly and his partners, reported to be La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid?
These will be among the major points of interest when Indian Super League (ISL) organisers IMG-R finally disclose the name of eight winning bids on Sunday.
Bids closed on March 27 with nine cities in the fray for the eight franchises. The cities vying for a team are Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Guwahati, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune. It is believed that Chennai will be axed as it has not managed to attract a lucrative bid.
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Apart from the host cities, Sunday’s announcement is also likely to reveal the identity of the owners and the consortiums that will be holding stakes in the teams. Several high-profile names from the world of sport, cinema and industrialists have submitted bids for the ISL.
Apart from Ganguly and Khan, actors Salman Khan, John Abraham, Ranbir Kapoor and Abhishek Bachchan have reportedly been in talks with various IPL and I-League club owners. Bachchan Jr, in fact, bought the Jaipur franchise of the IPL-style Pro Kabaddi League last week whereas Abraham holds stakes in Delhi Waveriders in the Hockey India League.
There have been rumours that Sachin Tendulkar may join forces with PVP Ventures for a team from Kochi. However, it is still unknown if Tendulkar is among the bidders. Interestingly, the same conglomerate is also believed to be in talks with Mahesh Bhupathi for his International Premier Tennis League.
Former I-League champions Dempo, Shillong Lajong, Mumbai FC and Mohun Bagan have also submitted bids alongside Delhi Daredevils owners GMR Group and Hyderabad Sunrisers owners Sun Network. Dempo have tied up with the Videocon Group for the Goa franchise whereas Lajong have tied up with Abraham for the Guwahati team. Mumbai FC owners, Subhash Chandra’s Essel Group, have submitted an individual bid for the Mumbai franchise.
Consultancy firm Ernst & Young have evaluated the bids which were submitted in two parts. The first part of the bid document is concerned with the financial aspects and details regarding buying of players and support staff. The second part lays emphasis on infrastructure investments, with franchises expected to invest in grassroots and establish its own academy. The base price for each franchise is set at Rs 120 crore for 10 years.
IMG-R announced the ISL, modeled on the IPL, last year with an aim of making Indian football commercially viable. The inaugural season is scheduled to be held from September to November this year. IMG-R claim to have roped in legends who are in the twilight of the careers like Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Freddie Ljunberg apart from just-retired footballers liker Dwight Yorke and Michael Owen. The likes of Kenny Dalglish and Peter Schmeichel are also in the fray for coaching. The player auctions are likely to be held next month.