Indian Super League
The All India Football Federation ended its 10 year deal with zee sports 5 years in advance in October 2010 and then joined hands with the Reliance Industries and the International Management group of the United States. This 15 year deal worth RS 700 crore gave IMG-Reliance exclusive rights to sponsorship, advertising, broadcasting, video, merchandising and a right to start an all new league in India. The other prominent football league in India was the I-League and it was totally against the AIFF the ISL for their own reason and did not support the idea. The I-League owners made it very clear that they would not loan out any players to IMG-Reliance for the league nor would they sign any player already playing in the Indian Super League. This roadblock did not stop the IMG-Reliance as the required number of players were already signed up for the tournament style league. Before going forward with the league a trial league-Bengal Premiere League Soccer was launched in associations with the Indian Football Association of West Bengal. The league was a failure but then too AIFF agreed to let IMG-Reliance at an all India level. The Indian Super League was officially launched on 21st October 2013 by AIFF, IMG-Reliance and Star Sports. At first it was announced that the league would take place for January-March (2014) but was then postponed to start in September the same year.
The bidding was finally rescheduled to early April 2014 and due to the delay now the bidder along with meeting with the financial requirements had to promote the growth of football in their respective regions/areas. The selected cities/states for the very 1st edition of the Indian Super League were Bangalore, Delhi, Goa, Guwahati, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune.
Indian Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar along with PVP Ventures won the bidding for the Kochi franchise. Sourav Ganguly along with Spanish La Liga giants Atletico di Madrid and a small group of Indian businessmen won the bid for Kolkata franchise. Partnership of I-League sides Dempo and Salgocar and Videocon won them the Goa franchise. Bollywood stars Ranbir Kapoor, Salman Khan and John Abraham won the bids for Mumbai, Pune and Guwahati franchisees respectively. Meanwhile Bangalore and Delhi were won by some companies. In August 2014 it was announced that Bangalore would be disbanded from the league before it even started but was quickly replaced by Chennai.
The league presently features 8 teams and runs through October to December. The league has started on the lines of IPL and Major League Soccer in the United States. It has a tournament type league format. The league's regular season runs in the months of October and November and it final series season runs in December. During the regular season each team plays the other on a 2 leg basis where, one at home and the other away. The top four teams head on to the semi-finals which is again played on 2 leg. Then the winning two teams move to the one-legged finals.
* A 2 leg match is played one on the home ground and the other on the away ground. The winner of this is the team which has the most aggregate goals in the 2 matches.
Tournament team rules
Like the IPL the Indian Super League also follow a roster control rule. This states that each team must sign one marquee player along with 7 foreign players. Out of these 7 players only 2 are to be signed directly by the club. There is another rule which states that each team must sign 14 domestic players out of which 4 players must be domestic.
Media & Sponsorships
Star Sports, one of the founding members of the league broadcasted the matches on their channels using their resources to reach millions of football fanatics across India. The league aired on a number of STAR channels and also streamed live on Star Sports. In July hero MotoCorp signed a 3 year deal with the league and so the league is now called Hero India Super League. Fox Sports announced to telecast ISL in Australia, Eurosport2 in Europe (except UK), and Star TV UK in UK. Puma was announced to be the ball supplier for the league.
- Luis Garcia signed with Atletico de Kolkata as a marquee player.
- John Capdevila signed Guwahati as their marquee player.
- David Trezeguet was signed by Pune.
- Alessandro Del Piero signed the Delhi Dynamos.
- Indian national team players Subrata Pal, Syed Nabi and Mehtab Hossain were also available for draft. 24 crores were spent during the Indian draft.
First Edition (2014 − 2015)
The first edition of the Hero Indian Super League started with a bang on 12th October 2014 and ended with a loud and resounding boom on 20th December with Atletico de Kolkata winning the trophy.
Top Scorer: Elano of Chennaiyin was the top scorer with 8 goals.
Top Assists: Koke of NorthEast United and Miroslav Slepicka of FC Goa each had 4 assists.
With the first edition of the ISL being successful the future seems bright with constant rumors of an expansion of the tournament and exciting new players joining the upcoming year. This might help boost the growth of football in India.
The Author feels that this is just the first step in developing a football structure in India and harness the untapped potential of young talented footballers in the country. Furthermore, the response from the First edition itself is very promising and hopefully the future would be even better.
Author: Satyajay Jethwa