Star India has entered into a multi-million dollar deal with Reliance Industries and International Management Group (IMG) to become equity partners in a ten-year football joint venture to run what is to be known as the Indian Super League.
The Indian television network, which is majority-owned by Rupert Murdoch, is reported to have a one-third (INR20 billion) stake in the highly anticipated Indian Premier League (IPL)-style joint venture, as well as having secured broadcast and sponsorship rights for the league.
Former Manchester United and Trinidad and Tobago striker Dwight Yorke, former captain of Sweden and Arsenal star Fredrik Ljungberg, former Argentina forward Hernan Crespo, and Robert Pires, who played for France and Arsenal, have all signed up to play in the league.
Goalkeeping legend Peter Schmeichel, who played for Manchester United and Denmark, and 1998 World Cup winner Marcel Desailly of France are also confirmed as two of the eight managers for the tournament, to be held from 18 January to 30 March 2014.
"India is hungry for its second sport. Combined with our expertise in sports production, our attempt is to bring an unparalleled football experience to our viewers," said Uday Shankar, CEO, Star India.
"For far too long, the Indian sports fan has quietly waited for this revolution on the cusp of which we stand today. Our objective is nothing short of creating a movement around football in India. We want to put India on the global map."
The bidding for the eight franchises will be held from 25 October to 5 November, with the cities of Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Delhi, Guwahati, Bangalore, Kochi, Goa and Pune named as the nine venues.
The league will feature 22 players in each team, with ten foreign players, including a marquee player. Each franchise will also include eight domestic players and four local players in the under-23 category.
"The league promises to revolutionise the sport from the very get-go, leveraging the strengths of all three partners who are focused on growing the game to national prominence, offering Indian football greater global exposure and eventually helping India qualify for the 2026 World Cup," said IMG-Reliance in a statement.