Sources at the league’s promoters said owners of I-League clubs, as well as celebrities from the sports and film sectors, had come forward to buy invitation-to-bid (ITB) documents.
Apart from meeting the usual financial criteria, bidders for Indian Super League franchises will have to ensure they have grass-roots development plans for football in their home cities, according to the ITBs for franchises.
An IMG Reliance source says, “In the past, it has been seen clubs spend huge amounts of money annually on player salaries but a very little part of it is spent on developing the sport. Therefore, one of the main eligibility norms in the ITB is development of football in the city the club represents.”
The tender document costs Rs 5 lakh and the base price has been fixed at Rs 120 crore over a term of 10 years. Bids have been sought from nine regions — Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Guwahati, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune — of which the top eight will be selected. Reportedly, Hyderabad was also considered but dropped due to political instability in the region.
Each team has to have at least 22 players — eight international players and 14 domestic ones (from the national team, clubs and the under-23 and -19 groups). Of the eight international players in a team, one will be a marque player.
IMG is in talks to rope in various international football stars. Dwight Yorke, Fredrik Ljungberg, Robert Pines, Louis Saha and Hernán Crespo have already confirmed their participation.
“The marque players will be recently retired international ones who have represented their countries in the World Cup and played in major international football leagues,” says a source at IMG Reliance.
It is expected the auction of players will be conducted in May.
Under the agreement between IMG Reliance and STAR India, the TV network (a 30 per cent partner in the league), will be responsible for marketing. It holds the exclusive media rights to the league and will be responsible for roping in on-ground, title and broadcast sponsors.