MUMBAI: Monday 21 July is a big day for Indian soccer. The excitement associated with the Indian Premier League player selection process by the various team owners annually is all set to hit Indian football, as the first player draft for the Star India and IMG-Reliance promoted Hero MotoCorp Indian Super League (ISL) gets underway. Up for grabs will be domestic footballers and the various teams will be putting up their bids to acquire them until Wednesday.
While the draft will be done along the lines of Major League Soccer of US, two franchises - Videocon Group owned Goa team and Bollywood actor John Abraham’s Guwahati team - will not be participating in it. Reason: the two have already selected their players from their respective I-League teams namely Dempo, Salgoancars and Shillong Lajong.
According to a PTI report, a total of 92 players will be available to the franchises at the draft. The list includes 32 players from the I-League clubs (on loan) and the rest are players who have been directly signed for the central pool by IMG-Reliance. Among those are players like internationals Gourmangi Singh and Nirmal Chetri.
Sources expect close Rs 25 crore to be spent during the three day player draft. The I-League clubs which have released their players to take part in the first edition of the tournament are Kolkata's glamour outfits East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, Mumbai FC, United SC and Rangdajied United FC.
Each team will have a minimum squad strength of 22 footballers, including one marquee player, seven internationals and 14 Indian ones. The players can be selected at a fixed price only.
The eight participating franchises in the inaugural edition of Hero MotoCorp ISL are Atletico de Kolkata, Delhi Dynamos FC, NorthEast United FC, Kerala Blasters FC, Team Goa, Team Pune, Team Mumbai and Team Bangalore.
The tournament is being backed by the All India Football Federation, which has created a window - between 18 September and 7 December - for the event.