EFLI gets West Bengal govt support for stadium

EFLI gets West Bengal govt support for stadium

MUMBAI: The Elite Football League of India, the Indian version of American Football, has taken another step towards fructification as the West Bengal government has given the much-needed permission to the league organisers to hold matches at the Salt Lake Stadium, beginning November 2012.

With enthusiastic support from West Bengal sports minister Madan Mitra, the Salt Lake Stadium will play host for the inaugural season of the Elite Football League of India (EFLI), which will see nine national teams from Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune, Rajasthan and Punjab and three international teams from Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh compete for the title.

Mitra said: "It is our great pleasure to lend full support to the EFLI in bringing the world?s biggest sport to Kolkata. The state government is proud to be instrumental in bringing this great sport to West Bengal. Our partnership with the EFLI promises to be a mutually beneficial one as it will enhance our sporting culture as well as provide multiple economic benefits."

EFLI Co-CEO Richard Whelan said: ?We are extremely thankful to the West Bengal government and in particular the Honourable Minister of Sports, Madan Mitra, for giving us the opportunity to be part of the wonderful sporting culture which is an inherent part of the state. Shri Mitra will be seen as the pioneer in helping bring the world?s largest sport into the country. We are very happy that the EFLI has got a home in West Bengal and the games will be played in the best stadium in the country."

Salt Lake Stadium, the second largest non-auto racing stadium in the world and the largest in the Indian sub-continent, will be the home to Elite Football League of India athletes. The stadium that can hold up to 1, 20,000 people and has a field measuring 105 ? 68 metres. Its fielding turf, which is the most appropriate field in India for American football, is being utilised as the training ground to give formal training by some of the best coaches in the US.

Earlier, the EFLI had roped in father of TV football in America, Sandy Grossman, an eight-time Emmy Award-winning director, to head the the production. Grossman, who is one of the most highly decorated professionals in the sports media industry, is currently gearing up his team at the Salt Lake Stadium for the test matches that will begin in June.

EFLI games will have a record of 11 cameras, whereas Grossman who has directed several Super Bowls has used as few as eight on Fox NFL games.

EFLI COO Manohar Bangera said, "Sport as a culture and way of life in West Bengal, with soccer and cricket leading the way. We are pleased the Shri Mitra has added American football to the sporting fabric of the state and the country. The West Bengal government has been very forthcoming and supportive for the EFLI and we are certain that this is the beginning of a historical and mutually beneficial partnership."

Each team will play the other twice, which adds up to 56 games plus two play-o? games to decide the top teams.

Ten Sports is the official broadcast partner and will air the games, including the Saturday and Sunday games as well as 13 Monday Night Football games.

The EFLI will comprise Indian players and coaching staff who will be ably supported by professionals from American teams. One of the purposes of EFLI is to promote football as a culture and to do that a lot of programmes will be conducted at schools and colleges across India to provide opportunities for deserving candidates at the grassroots level.

In the subsequent seasons, similar programmes will be conducted in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan. The idea is to eventually attract talent from all these nations to be a part of EFLI which will add a lot of flavour to the league.

The EFLI will work on a franchisee model, and like all franchise sports, the team ownership will be determined through auctions. What differentiates EFLI from other sports operating on the same model is that the bidding for ownership would be open to Indian and non-Indian bidders alike, making it the first truly international sport league in India.

The games will be broadcast on television and will be well supported by other forms of marketing including the merchandising model. In addition, are the opportunities present in the electronic, fantasy gaming and new media platforms, all of which offer explosive potential to brands for consumers outreach.

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