MUMBAI: It’s been just three weeks since the Football Sports Development, a company owned by IMG-Reliance, and broadcaster Star India, invited bids for Indian Super League (ISL) football teams from Indian companies and things are heating up already.
“Between 3 March to 21 March 2014, League organisers have recorded about 30 'Invitation to Bid' (ITB) document purchase. In terms of the numbers, this is by far the highest level of interest that any similar franchise-based sports property has garnered in India,” tournament organisers IMG-Reliance said in a statement.
The curiosity around the ISL football seems to be building with the organisers receiving positive response from about 30 interested parties, even as the deadline for submitting the bid documents has been extended by two days to 26 and 27 March.
The original dates for submission of bid documents were 24 and 25 March.
“The league organisers had requests coming in from a large number of prospective bidders to extend the deadline for submission of the bid. Based on these requests, IMG-Reliance, together with Star India and in consultation with advisory firm Ernst & Young, has decided to grant a one-time extension for bid submission by further two-days,” said a statement released by ISL promoters.
Some of the big names from the country's corporate world, Bollywood biggies and present sports team owners have shown keen interest to be part of the tourney.
The league was to begin in January but had to be postponed owing to issues like scheduling and lack of a window.
The league is backed by the All India Football Federation (AIFF), the commercial partner of IMG-Reliance and is expected to attract an entire new generation of sports fans into the football grounds throughout the country. With names like former Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke, former England forward Michael Owen and former Argentina striker Hernan Crespo associated with the league, it is certain to help expand the market for football in the country.
Bids have been invited for nine cities - Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Guwahati, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune. The top eight bids will win the right to own and operate football clubs and participate in the Indian Super League.
The ITB is available for a fee of Rs 5 lakh. The bid document has been picked up by actor Shah Rukh Khan, who recently announced that he would like to extend his Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise, Kolkata Knight Riders, to other sports, especially football. Former Indian cricket team captain Sourav Ganguly is also said to have picked up a bid document, and he would certainly want to bid for his city (Kolkata).
Others in the fray include actor and producer John Abraham, actor Ranbir Kapoor, Ronnie Screwvala, Rhiti Sports and JSW Sports. Salman Khan too is part of a Mumbai-based group which has picked up the bid documents for owning a team in the league.
It was also learnt that Rendezvous, group of builders who owned the former IPL franchise Kochi Tuskers, too have picked up the bid documents and is one of the 30 parties who have shown interest in the league.
“The mandate for winning a city team in the Indian Super League had a novelty factor wherein it's not only based on the highest financial bid, but also on the bidders' proposal of a sound plan for developing football in the catchment area they wish to bid,” said the statement.
This plan would also form a part of the agreement that each franchise would sign with the League, and would be expected to adhere to it. It also involves a robust business proposal and a committed five-year grassroot/community development plan (spending Rs 2 crore every year) starting with a million in-school kids engagement plan, age group specific training, youth team and leading to having a full-time football academy.
The delay in submitting bids was due to the "demanding documentation."
The winning bids announcement will take place in the second week of April. Ernst & Young, the advisory firm, has been entrusted the responsibility of evaluating the bid documents.
The new bid submission process will start from today and will now be open till 5:00 pm of 27 March instead of the earlier-announced date of 25 March. The winning bids will now be announced in the second week of April.
The base price for bidding for a franchise is Rs 12 crore per year for a tenure of 10 years. The football league, fashioned after the cash-rich IPL twenty-twenty tournament, will have eight teams in its inaugural year.