Owners of five Indian Premier League (IPL) and as many I-League teams are believed to have picked up the bid documents for the Indian Super League (ISL), which is scheduled to be held from September to November this year.
Sources claimed Kolkata Knight Riders, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Delhi Daredevils, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Rajasthan Royals have purchased the bid documents. Among the I-League teams, Dempo, Mumbai FC, Bangalore FC, Shillong Lajong and Pune FC are reported to have expressed interest in the ambitious league.
Kerala-based second division I-League team Eagles FC too have reportedly bought the bid documents along with several other individuals, of whom former India captain Sourav Ganguly, Sunil Gavaskar (via PMG), actor Ranbir Kapoor and producer Ronnie Screwvala are the big names.
While the keenness of IPL teams is understandable, the interest of five I-League teams would come as a relief to the organisers. The clubs were at loggerheads with IMG-R and AIFF, fearing that the ISL will have a direct impact on the future of the I-League. Fences have been mended since and the the fact that nearly half a dozen of the I-League teams have bid shows that they have shed their initial reluctance towards the tournament.
Dempo president Shrinivas Dempo said they hope to use the ISL as a platform to build a strong base for their I-League teams. “We look at the ISL as a commercial opportunity. There are some concerns that ISL will take over the I-League but we will sustain the I-League club because it is the core of Indian football,” he said.
IMG-Reliance, along with Star India, called for bids through the Invitation To Bid (ITB) documents for nine cities (Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Guwahati, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune) earlier this month. The document is priced at Rs 5 lakh and the base price for each franchise has been fixed at Rs 120 crore for a period of 10 years.
Roughly, a dozen suitors have since picked up the ITB documents and there are two more days for the deadline. It remains to be seen how many parties will officially submit their bids. The last date to table tenders is March 25. Advisory firm Ernst & Young has been entrusted with the responsibility of evaluating the bid documents, following which the top eight bidders will be announced by first week of April.
“There are a few more parties who have expressed interest but not picked the ITB documents yet. We expect that to happen over the next couple days. The parties will have to submit the documents by March 25 and the winning bids will be announced in the first week of April,” the source said.
Grassroot development clause
The source added that one of the crucial factors to winning the bid is a detailed grassroots development plan. It is mentioned in the bid document that Rs 2 crore should be spent on grassroots development in the first year itself. The franchisees will have to indulge in the development activities starting June. By the fifth year, all franchises are expected to have their own academies.