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Indian Super League Announces New Franchise Owners in Its Journey to Revolutionize Indian Football

MUMBAI, INDIA -- (Marketwired) -- 04/13/14 -- IMG Reliance, the joint venture between IMG Worldwide and Reliance Industries in India, Star India and the All India Football Federation, announced today the awarding of the eight new franchises that will make up the new Indian Super League. The inaugural football championship will operate between September and November beginning this year.

Termed as an unrivaled footballing event, the Indian Super League, being planned under the Football Sports Development Pvt Ltd., 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.

The Indian Super League's proposal for 'League Partners' received an overwhelming response from the business, sports and Bollywood community, to own a team from the nine proposed cities in contention. Four of the final eight cities -- Delhi, Kochi, Guwahati and Bangalore -- 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 Indian Super League.

The winning bidders represent a strong mix of corporate entities and celebrities:

  • Sun Group the Indian conglomerate for BENGALURU.
  • Chairman Sameer Manchanda of the cable provider Den Network for DELHI.
  • Venugopal Dhoot of the industrial conglomerate Videoco, with Dattaraj Salgaocar and Shrinivas V. Dempo for GOA.
  • The Indian film actor John Abraham partnering with the I-League team Shillong Lajong for GUWAHATI.
  • Renowned Indian cricketer, Sachin Tendulkar and the media and entertainment investment firm PVP Ventures for KOCHI.
  • Former captain of the Indian National team Sourav Ganguly, Harshavardhan Neotia, Spanish football Club Atletico Madrid, Sanjeev Goenka, Utsav Parekh for KOLKATA.
  • Bollywood's Ranbir Kapoor, one of the leading Indian film actors for MUMBAI.
  • Indian actor, producer, television presenter and philanthropist Salman Khan together with Kapil Wadhawan and Dheeraj Wadhawan of the Indian conglomerate Wadhawan Group for PUNE.

Ernst & Young is the designated international advisory firm and had the mandate of drawing up and validating the bid process. Each bidder was subject to strict eligibility terms 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.

Each of the winning bidders paid approximately $25 million for a 10-year franchise, valuing the original eight franchises at about $200 million. With the plan to add additional franchises over the next few years, that would suggest a future value for football in India in the neighborhood of $1 billion.

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

Announcement of the eight 'League Partners,' is the first major step towards setting the pace for the realization of a dream -- the dream of over a billion Indians to experience and embrace the beauty of football.

One of the prominent criteria in the process of 'League Partners' selection had been the commitment towards grass roots development -- an essential ingredient required for a systematic growth of the sport. In the first year, the Indian Super League along with its eight partners aims to reach one million kids through an in-school program and community development. Going forward, the league will endeavor to have a grassroots training module, along the lines of FIFA approved programs, for age specific coaching starting with U-8 and after five years, each of the League Partners to have a full-time academy.

"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 of Reliance Industries. "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."

India is uniquely placed as the youngest nation on the planet in terms of demographics and is poised to emerge as an economic superpower, having all the potential and aspiration to revel its sporting prowess.

"Today's announcement is the culmination of several years of hard work and strategic planning," said Michael Dolan, Chairman and Chief Executive of IMG and Chairman of IMG Reliance. "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."

Given the burgeoning interest in football and the country's long association with the sport, the Indian Super League desires to position itself among the best footballing competitions across the world, as an entertaining and high quality league that would engage hundreds of millions of fans and drive improvement in playing standards.

"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 Uday Shankar, CEO of Star India. "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 Indian Super League represents 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.

Praful Patel, President, AIFF, 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 and corporates are being introduced into the sport through Indian Super League. With IMG Reliance and Star providing the perfect foundation, the League has become an unstoppable force which will change Indian football. I hope the grassroots obligations of the franchises give 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."

Kushal Das, General Secretary, AIFF is also 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 organizers 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."

With the onset of Indian Super League, India seeks to write a new chapter in creating the footballing culture with renewed energy, investment and commitment by the stakeholders -- IMG Worldwide, Reliance Industries, Star India and the Indian Federation, AIFF.

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Jim Gallagher
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