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ISL announces partners in its journey to revolutionise Indian football

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MUMBAI: IMG Reliance and Star India promoted Indian Super League (ISL), under the aegis of All India Football Federation, on Sunday, 13 April reached a crucial junction on its path to rediscover Indian football, as it identifies and awards eight ‘League Partners’ across the country ahead of the proposed September-November 2014 inaugural season.

Touted to be an unrivalled footballing tourney, the ISL - that is being planned under the Football Sports Development (FSD) - aims to ignite a revolution in the sport and ultimately enable Indian football to thrive and perform at the highest level on the international stage.

"Today's announcement is the culmination of several years of hard work and strategic planning," said IMG chairman & chief executive and IMG Reliance chairman Michael Dolan in a statement. "We are enormously pleased at the level of interest the creation of the Indian Super League has generated. We believe the League signals the beginning of a new era in the development of football in India and, in the future, will be the source of great pride for the people of India."

ISL’s proposal for ‘League Partners’ received an overwhelming response from the business, sports and Hindi film industry, to own a team from the nine proposed cities in the contention. Four of the final eight cities - Delhi, Kochi, Guwahati and Bengaluru - will find itself in the mainstream football map of the country, which is traditionally being dominated by Kolkata, Goa, Pune and Mumbai, through the high-profile professional tournament.

"Inspiring our nation to excel is a priority and comes naturally to us at Star India. With our expertise in marketing and production of sports content, our task is cut out to etch football in the sports culture of India," said Star India CEO Uday Shankar. "The nation has been awaiting its second sport for far too long. And we're delighted to collaborate with esteemed partners in the business and sports world to make that happen!".

The winning bids, which boast a good mix of corporates and celebrities, include - the Sun Group for Bengaluru; Sameer Manchanda led Den Network for Delhi; Venugopal Dhoot (Videocon), Dattaraj Salgaocar and Shrinivas V. Dempo for Goa; John Abraham & Shillong Lajong for Guwahati; Sachin Tendulkar & PVP Ventures for Kochi; Sourav Ganguly, Harshavardhan Neotia, Atletico Madrid, Sanjeev Goenka, Utsav Parekh for Kolkata, Bollywood’s Ranbir Kapoor and Bimal Parekh for Mumbai and Salman Khan together with Kapil Wadhawan and Dheeraj Wadhawan of the Wadhawan Group for Pune.

“It is with great pride that I welcome the eight League Partners to the Indian Super League. We want to unlock the unbound aspirational energy of our youth through grassroots and community development programs,” said Nita M. Ambani. “Together, we will strive to build a vibrant ecosystem that will provide impetus to football in India. As Mentor of the League, I commit myself to development of football as a major sport for the youth of India.

Ernst & Young, the designated international advisory firm, had the mandate of drawing up and validating the bid process. Each bidder was subject to strict eligibility norms and was required to submit the bids, as prescribed under the ‘Invitation to Bid’ document. Bids were evaluated by the jury panel in the presence of Ernst & Young representatives.

The ISL represents a transformational progress for Indian football, progress that will be good for players, fans and the League Partners. It’s an opportunity to be part of one of the most exciting new properties in football anywhere in the world and Indian Federation, the AIFF has extended all its help for the success of the League.

AIFF president Praful Patel said: “No period in India’s long and proud history in football is more exciting than today. This day will go down in memory as a special day for Indian football as eight high profile celebrities & corporates are being introduced into the sport through Indian Super League. With IMG Reliance & Star providing the perfect foundation, the League has become an unstoppable force which would change Indian football.”

“I hope the grassroots’ obligation of the franchises gives a huge push to the development of the game. Along with the world class infrastructure that is being created for the Under 17 FIFA World Cup, and AIFF’s expression of interest to host 2015 and 2016 FIFA Club World Cup, Indian football is definitely turning a new leaf in its history,” he added.

AIFF general secretary Kushal Das too is a firm believer of the fact that Indian football needs an innovative approach to amass popularity. “I have always believed Indian football needs an innovative and experimental format like Indian Super League to bring the fans back to the stadiums. Today, with the kind of owners and organisers that we have behind Indian Super League, we have the perfect recipe to a successful professional tournament. I wish the Indian Super League all the best.”

Here is a closer look at the winning Bidders/Consortiums:

A new Sun rises in the Garden City

Bengaluru - Sun Group

Sun Group is an Indian conglomerate, based in Chennai, India. Sun Group's Sun TV Network is one of the largest media networks in India. It owns over thirty three television channels, 45 FM Radio Stations, Two Daily News Papers and Five Magazines with a reach of more than 95 million households in India. Sun Direct is one of the largest DTH service provider in the country having more than 9 million subscribers. Sun Pictures is the film division of Sun TV Network. The group is also present in the aviation business with SpiceJet and also owns IPL cricket team Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Den to lay football Network in Delhi

Delhi - Sameer Manchanda of Den Networks

DEN Networks - led by Chairman and Managing Director Sameer Manchanda, is India's largest cable TV distribution company serving 13 million homes in over 200 cities. Based in Delhi, DEN is a frontrunner of digitisation of Indian cable TV. DEN is also launching India’s fastest high speed broadband service with speeds of 100 Mbps and more. DEN aims to become the default destination for entertainment, information and interactivity for the Indian family.

Goan sport to get Dempo, Salgaocar & Videocon’s push

Goa - Salgaocar / Dempo / Videocon

Dattaraj Salgaocar: His company has diverse interests in Mining, Hospitality, and Shipping. It exports over 4 million tonnes of Iron Ore every year. The company also runs the Goa Marriott and Hotel La Plaz Gardens in Goa.

Dempo: Dempo Mining Corporation Limited is a prominent mining company from  Goa. Shrinivas V. Dempo is the chairman of Dempo Group. They are also the owners of Dempo Sports Club, popularly known as ‘the whites’ from Goa. The team has been a constant performer in all the national football championship and gained immense popularity in the last four decades of its existence. The team has several accolades and honours in its kitty. They have won the National Football League title in 2004 and 2006 and followed it with two I-League triumphs in 2006–07 and then in 2009–2010.

Videocon: The group is a US $5 billion global conglomerate with a diversified set of products ranging from handsets, D2H, Electronic Appliance etc. The group has 17 manufacturing sites in India and plants in Mainland China, Poland, Italy and Mexico.

John joins Lajong for Guwahati

Guwahati - John Abraham and Shillong Lajong

John Abraham: John Abraham is an established Bollywood actor, producer and former model. Known for his obsession for football, bikes and fitness, John is an avid follower of football and sports in general. He has bought a stake in Delhi team of Hockey India League.

Shillong Lajong: Shillong Lajong is an I-league team based in Shillong. It was established in the year 1983. It was promoted to the 1st division of the I-League in the 2009-10 season. They have been associated with prominent brands such as Aircel and Adidas. The team plays its home matches in the Nehru Stadium in Shillong.

God of cricket comes to ‘God’s own country’

Kochi - Prasad V. Potluri of PVP Ventures & Sachin Tendulkar

PVP is one of the largest investors of the country in media and entertainment industry and is listed on the BSE and the NSE. Prasad V Potluri, the known serial entrepreneur in the global outsourcing services space is the Chairman and MD of PVP Ventures. PVP was one of the bidders for Hyderbad team of IPL in 2012.

Sachin Tendulkar: The batting maestro and a world renowned personality, also known as the God amongst his global fan base, will be associated with the team as its brand ambassador.

Kolkata looks forward to Dadagiri in football

Kolkata - Sourav Ganguly, Harshavardhan Neotia, Atletico Madrid, Sanjiv Goenka, Utsav Parekh

Sourav Ganguly: Affectionately known as ‘Dada’, is a former Indian cricketer and captain of the Indian national team. Currently, a cricket commentator, Ganguly is regarded as one of India's most successful captains in modern times. He is the 5th highest run scorer in ODIs and was the 3rd person in history to cross the 10,000 run landmark. In 2002, the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack ranked him the sixth greatest ODI batsman of all time.

Atlético de Madrid: Spanish club based in Madrid that plays in the La Liga and has been the champions on 9 occasions. It is the third most supported club in Spain. They will be moving to a new stadium in the 2015 season which will have a capacity of 70,000 spectators. It is one of the biggest clubs in the world in terms of associates with more than 65,000 season ticket holders.

Harshavardhan Neotia: Harshavardhan Neotia of Ambuja Neotia Group is one of the most prominent and respected businessman in India. The corporate houses headquartered in Kolkata has its forte in real estate and recent forays into hospitality, healthcare and education. The group has championed the cause of woman and child healthcare by setting up Bhagiarthi Neotia Woman & Child Care Centre in Kolkata.

Sanjiv Goenka:  Sanjiv Goenka of RP – Sanjiv Goenka Group from Kolkata is a prominent businessman in India having interest in Power business in the city and national network of modern Retail chains across country.

Utsav Parekh:  Utsav Parekh has been Non-Executive-Non-Independent Chairman at SMIFS Capital Markets Ltd. since April 1, 2009. Mr. Parekh has about 25 years of in-depth experience in merchant banking and financial services.

Mumbai Wakes Up to Sid’s passion

Mumbai - Ranbir Kapoor & Bimal Parekh

Ranbir Kapoor is one of the leading Indian film actor of the current generation. Through his successful career in Hindi (Bollywood) films, he has become one of the highest-paid actors and one of the most high-profile celebrities in India. He is the recipient of several awards and nominations including five Filmfare Awards. Kapoor is the son of actors Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh, and the grandson of actor-director Raj Kapoor. He began his career in Bollywood as an assistant director on Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 2005 film Black and later turned actor to give many a hit movies year on year. A keen follower of football and an avid fan of FC Barcelona, Ranbir is often seen on the maidans of Mumbai playing football with his co-stars and friends when he is not shooting.

Bimal Parekh: Bimal Parekh is a renowned Chartered Accountant from Mumbai.

Pune will play its football Dabang style

Pune - Salman Khan, Kapil Wadhawan & Dheeraj Wadhawan

Kapil & Dheeraj Wadhawan: Kapil Wadhawan is the Chairman and Dheeraj Wadhawan is the Vice Chairman of the Rajesh Wadhawan Group, which has diverse business interests including financial services, food retail, hospitality, education and real estate. Sport development has been a major focus area of the Wadhawan family, which believes in taking sport to the grassroots level, thus enabling access for India's young to good quality sporting activities and infrastructure. Over the years, Wadhawan Group has been associated with sports - especially cricket - either as sponsors or team owners.

Salman Khan: Salman Khan is an Indian actor, producer, television presenter, and philanthropist. Known as the actor with mass appeal, Salman is the promoter of ‘Being Human Foundations’. He has appeared in the highest grossing film nine separate years during his career, a record that remains unbroken. He has starred in more than 80 Hindi films and thus far and has established himself as a leading actor of Hindi cinema.

Leveraging the strengths of all its partners, the Indian Super League envisions creating new football powerhouses in this part of the world, which will rise to global prominence as the country and the sport further develops.

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