Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly were among the host of high-profile winning bidders as the organises of the much-anticipated Indian Super League unveiled the eight franchises for the event that is set to take Indian football by storm.
The bid winners for the eight franchises of the league, which is scheduled to be held in September-November, was announced by organisers IMG-Reliance after evaluation of the bids by a seven-member panel.
Tendulkar bagged the Kochi franchise along with PVP Ventures, which also owns a team in the Indian Badminton League while Ganguly, who bid by forming a consortium with Spanish League giants Atletico Madrid and businessmen Harshavardhan Neotia, Sanjeev Goenka and Utsav Parekh, won the Kolkata franchise.
The Mumbai franchise went to Bollywood star Ranbir Kapoor and Bimal Parekh while another tinsel town biggie Salman Khan bagged the Pune franchise together with Kapil Wadhawan and Dheeraj Wadhawan of the Wadhawan Group.
Another actor John Abraham teamed up with I-League side from the northeast, Shillong Lajong, to bag the franchise to be based in Guwahati.
The remaining three teams went to Sameer Manchanda-led Den Network for Delhi, Sun Group, the owners of IPL team Hyderabad Surisers, for Bengaluru and the consortium of Venugopal Dhoot of Videocon, Dattaraj Salgaocar and Shrinivas V Dempo for Goa.
Organised by IMG-Reliance in association with Star India, the league has the backing of AIFF, and is set to see big names as icon players such as former France international Robert Pires and ex-Sweden and Arsenal player Fredrik Ljungberg.
Sources said that the organisers received positive response from more than 30 interested parties to its ‘Invitation To Bid’ tender notice, which closed on March 27.
It is learnt that around 18 to 20 bidders had put in their money on ISL either through forming a consortium or individually. This is for the first time that a franchise property in sports in India has elicit such a response from the business as well as sports and Bollywood community.
International advisory firm, Ernst & Young, had the mandate of drawing up and validating the bid process. Each bidder was subject to strict eligibility norms and was required to submit the bids, as prescribed under the ‘Invitation to Bid’ document.
The bids were evaluated by the jury panel in the presence of Ernst & Young representatives, the organisers said.
“IMG Reliance and Star India promoted Indian Super League, under the aegis of AIFF, have today reached a crucial junction on its path to rediscover Indian football, as it identifies and awards eight ‘League Partners’ across the country ahead of the proposed September-November 2014 inaugural season,” the IMG-Reliance said.
“Termed as an unrivalled footballing event, the Indian Super League being planned under the Football Sports Development Pvt Ltd. aims to ignite a revolution in the sport and ultimately enable Indian football to thrive and perform at the highest level on the international stage.
“Indian Super League’s proposal for ‘League Partners’ received an overwhelming response from the Business, Sports and Bollywood community, to own a team from the nine proposed cities in the contention,” the organisers said.
IMG-Reliance said the ISL will help in taking football to other non-traditional centres, which will only help in raising the profile of the game in the country.
“Four of the final eight cities — Delhi, Kochi, Guwahati and Bangalore — will find itself in the mainstream football map of the country, which is traditionally being dominated by Kolkata, Goa, Pune and Mumbai, through the high-profile professional Indian Super League,” it said.
Tendulkar, who retired last year from international cricket after 24-year-long illustrious career, will be associated with the team as its brand ambassador, the release said.
PVP Ventures, headed by Prasad V Potluri, is one of the largest investors of the country in media and entertainment industry and is listed on the BSE and the NSE.
PVP was one of the bidders for Hyderabad team of IPL in 2012.
Ganguly, also an ardent football fan, has tied up with four entities to get Kolkata, one of the most sought-after franchises.
Atletico de Madrid is the third most supported club in Spain. They are now on the top of La Liga standings and also through to the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League while Harshavardhan Neotia is the head of Ambuja Neotia Group, a Kolkata-based real estate company and recent forays into hospitality, healthcare and education.
Sanjiv Goenka of RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group has interest in Power business and network of modern retail chains across the country. Utsav Parekh has been Non-Executive-Non-Independent Chairman at SMIFS Capital Markets Ltd.
A keen follower of football and an avid fan of FC Barcelona, actor Ranbir bagged the Mumbai franchise along with Bimal Parekh, a well-known chartered accountant. Ranbir has been often seen on the maidens of Mumbai playing football with his co-stars and friends when he is not shooting.
Another actor Salman Khan is also known for his interest in football. He has often been seen in football stadiums, including during India’s Nehru Cup campaign in New Delhi a few years ago. He was on the verge of being roped in as the Brand Ambassador of Indian football by the AIFF a few years back though it was dropped later on.
Media conglomerate Sun Group, which won the Bengaluru franchise, is not new in sports business as it also owns IPL cricket team Sunrisers Hyderabad.
For the football fans in the capital city of Delhi, it’s a welcome news as Den Networks Limited, a cable TV distribution company, bagged the franchise while Goa has been bagged by the owner of I-League side Dempo and Dattaraj Salgaocar, who owns a mining company, along with electronics major Videocon.
Meanwhile, football-mad northeast India is also set to get a taste of high-profile football with actor John Abraham tying up with Shillong Lajong, the region’s first I-League side. John is an avid follower of football and sports in general. He has also bought a stake in the Delhi Waveriders team of Hockey India League.