Former cricketers, Bollywood stars, top industrialists and a European club — an interesting mix of celebrities and corporate honchos were named on Sunday as franchise owners for the inaugural edition of the Indian Super League (ISL), to be held from September to November.
Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Salman Khan, Ranbir Kapoor and the Sun Network are among the key stakeholders in the multi-million dollar football league.
The ISL, modelled on IPL, is an eight-city tournament conceptualised by IMG-Reliance to popularise Indian football and make it commercially viable.
Tendulkar has teamed up with Hyderabad-based PVP Ventures Ltd to buy the Kochi franchise whereas former India captain Ganguly has Spanish League leaders Atletico Madrid as one of the key partners for the Kolkata franchise. Ganguly managed to outmuscle Shah Rukh Khan, who had bid for the Kolkata franchise.
The Mumbai franchise went to Bollywood star Ranbir Kapoor and chartered accountant Bimal Parekh while tinsel town biggie Salman Khan bagged the Pune franchise in partnership with the Wadhawan Group. John Abraham teamed up with an I-League side from the Northeast, Shillong Lajong, to bag the franchise to be based in Guwahati.
The Delhi franchise was won by Den Network. The Sun Group won the Bengaluru franchise, while the consortium of Venugopal Dhoot of Videocon, Dattaraj Salgaocar and Shrinivas Dempo won the bid for Goa.
IMG-R received approximately 15 bids for eight teams. While IMG-R refused to divulge the details, sources said the average price of the successful tenders was Rs 15 crore.
Ganguly said this was the beginning of a football revival in the country. “A very positive approach has been taken… It’s too early to say if it will become the mainstream football in India,” he told The Indian Express. Other members of the consortium with Ganguly include businessmen Harshavardhan Neotia, Sanjeev Goenka and Utsav Parekh.