Tendulkar, Ganguly & Bollywood Stars to Own Indian Super League Teams

In India’s cricket crazy environment, football is fast catching up in terms of popularity; at least with the urban crowd. Now, things are about to heat up even more as the Reliance Foundation and IMG owned Indian Super League (ISL) announced the winning bids for eight football franchises on Sunday, 13th April 2014. The winning bidders included actors Ranbir Kapoor, John Abraham and Salman Khan; former Indian cricket team captains Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly; and industrialists Harshavardhan Neotia, Sanjeev Goenka and Venugopal Dhoot.

The eight franchises selected will take part in the inaugural Indian Super League scheduled to kick off in September this year. The highlight of the league will be the presence of international stars such as Michael Owen, Hernan Crespo, Thierry Henry and many others. Naturally, this has garnered the attention of many and sources say over fifteen bids were submitted for eight franchises in the IMG-Reliance and Star India backed ISL.

The franchises that won the final bids will be hosting their home games in cities such as – Kochi, Mumbai, Pune, Goa, Guwahati, Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore. The people owning these franchises are diverse – Bollywood Actors such as Ranbir Kapoor, Salman Khan and John Abraham, cricket legends Sachin Tendulkar and Saurav Ganguly and business houses with some like, DattarajSalgaocar and Shrinivas V Dempo already owning clubs in the I-League. Tendulkar along with PVP ventures will own the Kochi Franchise while a consortium of Sourav Ganguly, Atletico Madrid, Harshavardhan Neotia, Sanjeev Goenka and Utsav Parekh has won the bid for football-crazy Kolkata whereas, Ranbir Kapoor and Bimal Parekh are owners of Mumbai.

The average annual franchise cost of an ISL team will be Rupees 15 crore, 25 per cent more than the base price. While the franchise fees for the winning bids are not known, sources close to the development said the territories like Mumbai, Goa, Kolkata and Pune could have got a hefty premium on the base price of Rupees 12 crore a year. These figures are tame compared to those seen with Indian Premier League (IPL) Teams, but cricket is a completely different ball game in India.

The excitement from the owners has been heartening. The little master, Sachin Tendulkar commented, “The Indian Super League presents an opportunity to develop a platform for youngsters to learn and enhance their talent to develop into outstanding players.”Ranbir Kapoor took a similar view stating, “It is a moment of great pride for me to be a part of the Indian Super League and to represent Mumbai. Football has never been far away from my daily life since childhood.”The league’s inception had a lot to do with impetus from Reliance Foundation Chairperson Nita Ambani. Now, with the ISL on the cusp of putting India on the world footballing map, this could be the catalyst for making football the number one sport in India.



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