New Delhi: Seeking to revolutionise football in the country, organisers of the much-anticipated Indian Super League will unveil the eight franchises on Sunday, with cricket legends, Bollywood stars and a host of corporates in the fray to own teams. Organised by IMG Reliance in association with Star India, the league has the backing of All India Football Federation (AIFF), and is likely to see big names such as ex-Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke, former Argentina forward Hernan Crespo and England's Michael Owen.
PTI has learnt that bidders include "two Indian cricket legends, five Bollywood celebrities, three I-League clubs and five corporate entities". "It remains to be seen who would ultimately be awarded the franchises," a source close to the league said.
This is being seen as an unrivalled football championship in the country once called 'sleeping giant' by FIFA president Sepp Blatter, and it aims to foster local talent by featuring international stars. Anticipation around the ISL seemed to have been building with the organisers receiving positive response from more than 30 interested parties to its 'Invitation To Bid' tender notice.
The bids closed on March 27. It is learnt that around 18 to 20 bidders have 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. IPL, in the year 2007, had 11 bids out of which eight won the franchises. Former India cricket captain Sourav Ganguly, who is reported to have bid with a consortium having Atletico Madrid in it, has already upped the competition among bidders.
"It would come as a no surprise if one hears similar high- profile international clubs coming over to India as technical partners to the rest of franchises. Ranbir Kapoor, Abhishek Bachchan and John Abraham who are reportedly in the fray - are known for their love for the game and their association with certain top international clubs," a source said. The nine cities in the reckoning are Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Guwahati, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune, out of which eight will be shortlisted.