MUMBAI: The first player draft of the two day Hero Indian Super League (ISL) which is underway is probably rewriting the history of Indian football, as domestic players were selected by the six participating teams. The two other teams, Goa and Northeast United football club have already announced their selected players from the I-league clubs like Dempo Sports Club for Goa and Shillong Lajong for Northeast United football club. IMG global football vice president Andy Knee informed that some players of the Hero Indian super League (ISL) were free agents while others were loaned from the I-League teams.
Elaborating the pricing policy of the 84 players, Knee said, "There is variable pricing and not one uniform price. Clubs are aware of the prices and will make their choices accordingly. This draft is only for season one. For free agents, there is a chance to enter into a longer agreement. There is a loaning fee. After the league is over, some would sign for the I-League club. Gouramangi and Subrata Paul for example, are in a higher price band. The lower range is around Rs 15 lakh per annum. We can’t give specific numbers."
But according to sources in the know, the top players like Subrata Paul, Gauramangi Singh and Nirmal Chettri could have walked away with contracts anywhere between the price range of 80-85 lakh for this season.
Earlier, IMG senior vice president global business development football Jefferson Slack along with a representative from each team had decided the draft pick sequence through a draw of lots.
Out of a total pool of 84 domestic players, the Pune team, which was assigned as ‘A pick’ as per the first round of the draft pick sequence draw of lots, set the ball rolling by picking up Lenny Rodrigues who was the first player of the draft to be selected followed by D Ravanan, Ashutosh Mehta, Joaquim Abranches, Pritam Kotal, Manish Maithani and Israil Gurung. Rodrigues is a national team mid-fielder.
Team Mumbai picked star goal keeper Subrata Paul followed by Lalrindika Ralte, Syed Rahim Nabi, Raju Gaikwad, Singam Subash Singh, Ram Malik and Deepak Mondal.
Kerala Blasters chose Mehtab Husain in its first outing followed by Sandesh Jhingan, Ishfaq Ahmed, Gurwinder Singh, Nirmal Chettri ,Sushant Mathew and Godwin Franco.
Team Bengaluru handpicked Harmanjot Khabra, Dhanachandra Singh, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Gauramangi Singh, Shilton Paul,Denson Devdas and Khelemba Metei.
Atlectico de Kolkata selected their initial players with Cavin Lobo, Arnab Mondal, Denzil Franco, Rakesh Masih, Mohammed Rafique, Mohammed Rafi and Biswajit Saha.
Delhi Dynamos, the team assigned ‘F pick’ in the first round (and hence last) as per the draw of lots, got Francis Fernandes, Robert Lalthamuana, Munmun Lugun, Naoba Singh, Shylo Malsawmtluanga, Shouvik Ghosh and Shouvik Chakraborty,
Two of the franchises, Team Goa and NorthEast football club (they were assigned ‘G pick’ and ‘H pick’ respectively, in the first round as per the draw of lots) who had already selected their players before the draft could take place spelt out their list for players. Team Goa announced its seven players consisting of Laxmikant Kattimani, Narayan Das, Debabrata Roy, Gabriel Fernandes, Clifford Miranda, Shaikh Jewel Raja and Alwyn George.
NorthEast United FC will have Kunzang Bhutia, Boithang Haokip, Jibon Singh, Durga Boro, Aibor Khongjee, Zodingliana Ralte and T.P Rehnesh in the team.
Apart from team Goa and NorthEast United football teams, the other six teams were given an equal opportunity to bid for players as the drafting policy was held alternately. Commenting about the involvement of foreign football players, Team Pune said, "You could also expect a lot of Italians in our team as we have signed Italian footballer Bruno Cirillo and coach Franco Colombo is also an Italian"
Bollywood actor John Abraham who co-owns the NorthEast football club came with two partners - Rahul Patil and Ronnie Lahiri. Abraham speaking on his choice of franchise said, “We chose north east because it is a hotbed of football. We look at ourselves as eight states-one united. We are looking at the Under 19 and Under 20 groups. We will also look at growing football at the grassroot level. By signing marquee players we hope to grab eyeballs.”
Well known Indian footballer Bhaichung Bhutia said the I- League has not been able to create football stars but hoped the Hero ISL would be able to mould stars who would become role models for young children. He said footballers in India deserved better financial packages as they were underpaid. “I wish the ISL too had an auction, but this is definitely a welcome move,” he added.
The draft will continue on 23 July as well, where teams will be given a last chance to bid for players from the pool of remaining talent.