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IMG Reliance invites bids for Indian Super League football teams

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MUMBAI: Football too would now have twenty-20 cricket’s Indian Premier League-like tournament. Football Sports Development, a company owned by IMG-Reliance , and broadcaster Star India, today invited bids for Indian Super League (ISL) football teams from Indian companies.

Football Sports Development plans to hold the Indian Super League tournament from September to November 2014. The league will look to foster local talent and feature international stars with the aim of raising football's popularity in the country.

The league will be played in strict accordance with international standards and regulations. The league will have world-class international players play with the best from India. Each team will consist of a minimum of 22 players consisting of 1 marquee player, 7 international players and 14 Indian players. And each team will have a set of home and away matches.

The league is backed by the All India Football Federation (AIFF), the commercial partner of IMG-Reliance. The league is expected to attract an entire new generation of sports fans into the football grounds throughout the country and is expected to help expand the market for football in the country.

An Indian company can collaborate with a foreign company to bid for a team.

Bids have been invited for nine cities  -- Bangalore, Chennai, Dehli, 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 league promises to revolutionise the sport, leveraging the strengths of all three partners who are focused on uplifting the game to national prominence and offer Indian football greater global exposure.

All bidding parties need to satisfy the eligibility criteria and other requirements specified in the invitation to bid. Interested parties need to submit the bidding documents at IMG-Reliance Mumbai office no later than 5:00 pm on 25 March 2014 and the winning bids will  be announced in the first week of April 2014.

Actor Shah Rukh Khan, who owns the IPL cricket team Kolkata Knight Riders, has already expressed his interest in owning a football team in the Indian Super League.

Star India, which also owns broadcast and sponsorship rights, will use its sports properties to take the league to millions of households and also monetise the content on and off the field. 

Globally, football is the world’s favourite sport, ranking in the highest in terms of participation, number of fans, TV viewership, sponsorship and revenues. Annual revenue for football globally is estimated at $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 attract and retain viewer interest. 

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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