Television

Reliance, Star India, IMG brings Indian Super League for football to India

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MUMBAI: Reliance Industries, Star India and IMG are set to launch the “Indian Super League”, an unrivalled football championship that will foster local talent and feature international stars with the aim of making the game one of the country’s flagship sport and India - a name to reckon with in the global arena.

The league promises to revolutionise the sport from the very get-go, leveraging the strengths of all three partners who are focused on growing the game to national prominence, offer Indian football greater global exposure and eventually help India qualify for the 2026 World Cup.

Reliance, India’s largest business enterprise, Star India, the nation’s biggest TV network and entertainment conglomerate, and IMG, a leader in sports management, have a storied tradition of innovation, competitiveness and institutional commitment that will propel the venture, in which the partners will have proportionate stakes.

The “Indian Super League” will feature eight city specific teams to start with and will tap the burgeoning interest among the country’s young population that’s increasingly seen taking interest in the sport globally. The League will kick-off in January 2014 and will run through March 2014, with plans for a second window in the same year.

Annual global revenue for football globally is estimated at USD 28 billion,according to a study by AT Kearney. Star India,which also holds telecast rights to BCCI cricket matches in India,will use its superior content creation,packaging and presentation expertise to whet and retain viewer interest.

“Football, with its largely untapped potential in the country, has the opportunity to grow to an unrivalled commercial success quite unlike any other sport. We hope the growing football footprint will pave the way for the nation’s sporting renaissance”, said IMG-Reliance chairperson Nita M. Ambani.

“India is hungry for its second sport. Combined with our expertise in sports production, our attempt is to bring an unparalleled football experience to our viewers”, said Star India CEO Uday Shankar. “For far too long, the Indian sports fan has quietly waited for this revolution on the cusp of which we stand today. Our objective is nothing short of creating a movement around football in India. We want to put India on the global map.”

“The ‘Indian Super League’ will feature international football stars combined with good football facilities, rivalry between India’s biggest cities and the roar of a billion passionate fans,” said IMG Worldwide chairman and CEO Mike Dolan. “It envisions creating new football powerhouses in this part of the world, which will rise to global prominence as the country and the sport further develop.”

The League will have world-class international players play with the best from India. Each team will have one marquee player, international players and the best of Indian talent. Given India’s burgeoning interest in football and the country’s long association with the sport, the ‘Indian Super League’ is on the threshold of launching a revolutionary new football culture in the country.

The ‘Indian Super League’ will also implement various football development projects aimed at holistic development of the sport in the country, including engaging with the masses to get them excited about football, encouraging families to regularly involve their children in football, creating an infrastructure to identify talented footballers at a young age and groom them into elite professionals and creating a critical mass of highly talented coaches to work at all levels of football in India.

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