Football in India has grown to a great extent during the last 10 years. A large percentage of the youth in the country play football and take possess a keen interest in the beautiful game. While football leagues in India have been in existence for some time now, they never have catapulted to a level where they grab the attention of the crowd that follows European and World football with much passion.
That looked all set to change when the Indian Super League (ISL) was announced. The league’s inception was initiated by Nita Ambani chaired Reliance Foundation. The RIL-owned organization has played a critical role in many sports and charity events for some time now. Organized by IMG-Reliance, the league will feature local Indian talent as well as world class players from foreign countries. The league will see teams based in various cities such. IMG-Reliance along with Star India have invited bids through the Invitation To Bid or ITB documents for nine cities – Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Guwahati, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune – of which the top eight will get the nod.
The Dempo Group of Companies has shown a keen interest in bidding for the Goa franchise. Dempo Chairman Shrinivas Dempo was quoted as saying, “As I said in the past, if at all we look at the Indian Super League, it will be as a commercial opportunity. We are yet to get the bid document but at some stage I intend to get the bid document. We will see how it goes once we have the bid document in hand.”
Dempo bidding for the Goa franchise makes perfect sense. The group has been involved in football for decades now. The club has won five National Championships over the past decade. “I am told that the bid amount for all the centers is the same. I am a little bit concerned with the market absorbability of Goa. That’s something we need to have a closer look at,” said Dempo, who is the vice president of All India Football Federation and president of Goa Football Association.
The tender document costs Rupees 5 lakh and the base price for a franchise has been fixed at 120 Crores over a 10 year period. With Dempo pitching for the ISL, there are fears that the current I-League squad may not get the attention, and funding, it has got in the past. Dempo, however, allayed such fears.”I think these are two separate things. We are very focused and determined that we will sustain the I-League club. That’s the core of Indian football. I believe there are some concerns that ISL will take over the I-League.
Dempo also went on to explain that he wishes to make the I-League stronger and promises that any group companies that will be involved in the ISL will be a separate entity. However, Dempo stressed the importance of helping both the parties in the I-League and ISL, thus strengthening Indian Football as a whole.