The football fraternity on Sunday hailed the coming in of business houses and leading personalities from cricket and entertainment industry in the Indian Super League football after the organisers announced the eight franchise owners.
The bid winners of the eight franchises of the league, which is scheduled to be held in September-November, was announced in Mumbai by organisers IMG-Reliance after evaluation of the bids by a seven-member panel.
Indian cricket legends Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly were among the host of high-profile winning bidders, which also include Bollywood stars Ranbir Kapoor, Salman Khan and John Abraham, for the league.
Legendary footballer and former captain I M Vijayan said that the involvement of the likes of Tendulkar and Ganguly will lend credibility to the ISL and help in taking football forward in the country.
“I am excited and thrilled at the news that Sachin has bagged the Kochi team. He is the greatest sportsperson in the country with a huge fan following.
Sourav Ganguly has also won Kolkata. Certainly, their presence will do wonders in the ISL and in Indian football in general,” Vijayan told PTI from his home in Kerala.
“For long, the business houses have been shy to invest in football. But now with the coming of the ISL, some big businessmen have come at least. Money will be poured in Indian football now. It is a wonderful news for football,” he said.
“I am glad especially for the domestic players and youngsters. They will rub shoulders with some top players in the world. They will gain in experience. Financially also, they will gain,” he added. Vijayan said Tendulkar being the owner of the Kochi team will be a big boost in reviving football in Kerala.
“Kerala was a football powerhouse of Indian football some years back but it has declined. Now with the coming of the ISL and Tendulkar on board, I hope football will be revived in Kerala.”
Former India captain and Olympian P K Banerjee said the ISL will improve the infrastructure. “It’s a fantastic news. There’s no denying the fact that money will be poured in to Indian football now. Infrastructure and all will change now.
Money is a very big factor. In our times, when I was the coach of the Indian team for the Asian Games in 1982, many players had stopped coming to the camp for lack of money.”
Shabbir Ali, who had also captained the Indian football team, felt it will bring the fans back to the stadia. “The concept of IPL has worked well and it’s a welcome sign that it has embraced football now.
Nobody will be unhappy with football anymore. Let’s not get into comparisons but I’ve always maintained there’s more crowd in football than cricket. “We see better crowd in a club football match than any Ranji Trophy. Certainly it proves that football attracts more crowd.”