?It doesn’t get bigger than this. In a recent development, it has been revealed that stars such as Dwight Yorke, Freddie Ljunberg, Robert Pires and Hernan Crespo have signed on for the Indian Premier League (IPL) – style football league which had initially added Louis Saha to the competition roster. More players are expected to join the bandwagon such as former Arsenal and Liverpool legends Thierry Henry and Michael Owen respectively.
The IMG-R league is a brainchild of the commercial and marketing partners of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), IMG-Reliance. It is scheduled to be a multi-million dollar league which is expected to Kick off in January of 2014 and will run all the way through to March.
The league, which is expected to be called ‘The Indian Super League’, will feature eight Franchise teams form cities such as Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Delhi, Guwahati, Bangalore, Kochi, Goa and Pune. The base price to buy a franchise is expected to be around Rupees twenty five crore, as per an invitation tender, submitted by IMG-R.
The teams will then bid for an array players of national as well as international calibre, featuring talents from India’s domestic circuit primarily, with the focus also on the marquee players, such as ones mentioned above.
The franchises will be auctioned off with buyers for teams including heavyweights from various facets of the Indian spectrum such actors Shahrukh Khan, John Abraham, Ranbir Kapoor, John Abraham and Abhishek Bachchan. IPL (cricket) franchise owners such as Dayanidhi and Kalanidhi Maran, GMR Group, Emerging Media have also shown signinficant interest.
Corporate stalwarts such as Tony Fernandes, Rana Kapoor (Yes Bank), Videocon Group, Sunil Mittal, Anand Mahindra just to name a few were involved in the competition for franchises.
Once the franchises are auctioned, they will decide who will manage or coach these teams with English Premier League legends such as Peter Schmicheal and Marsel Desailly expected to throw their hat into the managerial ring for the competition.
To broadcast the league in its entirety to the teeming millions, IMG-R has signed a Joint Venture (JV), with Star India, with a ten-year broadcasting deal.
Speaking to the Times of India, IMG-R chairperson Nita Ambani elucidated, “Having Star on board as a partner strengthens our efforts and commitment to propel Indian football to its rightful place. We see the launch of the football league as the realization of a dream of a billion-plus Indians to experience the most cherished game globally in new ways."
She was seconded in her opinion by CEO Star India, Uday Shankar, who explained, "India is hungry for its second sport. For far too long, the Indian sports fan has waited for this revolution. Our objective is nothing short of creating a movement around football in India. We want to put India on the global map."
A source close to the developments stealthily confirmed,"The interest shown so far has been tremendous. Ranbir was earlier approached to become the brand ambassador but given the football fan that he is, he wanted team for himself.”