‘I am sure Indian Super League will take off’ – Arsene Wenger.
The Indian Super League is an effort to make football a top sport in India. Here is a list of 8 things that you must know about ISL:
1. It was long due and long pending:
Reliance Industries (along with International Management Group of the United States) had signed a 15 year, 7-billion deal with All India Football Federation on 9 December 2010. The deal gave IMG-Reliance exclusive commercial rights to sponsorship, advertising, broadcasting, merchandising, video, franchising, and rights to create a new football league.
2. It all started in Bengal but could not work out:
On 25 April 2011, the first version of an football league was officially launched when the Indian Football Association of West Bengal launched the Bengal Premier League Soccer with the first season scheduled for 2012. The league was supposed to have six franchises which were based within West Bengal. The league had to feature top players such as Fabio Cannavaro, Robbie Fowler, Hernán Crespo, and Robert Pirès. However, in February 2012, it was announced that the league would be postponed to an undecided date before finally disbanding officially in 2013 due to financial reasons.
3. Louis Saha had to become the first marquee signing for the Indian Super League:
In October 2013, it was announced that former Manchester United player and France international Louis Saha had become the first marquee signing for the Indian Super League. It did not work out though.
4. Atlético de Kolkata announced the first official marquee signing in the Indian Super League:
The first team to be launched officially was the Kolkata franchise as Atlético de Kolkata on 7 May 2014. Then, on 8 July 2014, Kolkata also announced the first official marquee signing in the Indian Super League when they signed UEFA Champions League winner Luis García, an ex-liverpool player.
5. 24 crore were spent during the Indian players draft:
On 22 July 2014, the Indian Super League held its first ever draft for Indian players. Notable names from the India national team to be available in the draft were Subrata Pal, Syed Nabi, and Mehtab Hossain. At the end of the draft it was reported that a total of 24 crore were spent during the Indian players draft.
6. First goal scorers:
The league officially started on 12 October 2014, Atlético de Kolkata won the first match 3–0 (by beating Mumbai City). Ethiopia international Fikru Teferra scoring the first ever goal in the Indian Super League in the 27th minute of the match. On 15 October 2014, Balwant Singh became the first Indian football player to score first goal in the Indian Super League, for Chennaiyin FC.
7. Format of the league:
The Indian Super League regular season runs between October and November with the finals series being played in November and December. During the regular season, each plays each other twice on a home and away basis. The top four teams at the end of the season qualify for the finals series. The semi-finals are played in a two-legged format with the winners moving onto the one-legged final.
8. Increasing the reach of the game:
On 19 September 2014 it was announced that the Indian Super League (ISL) would be the first sporting event in the country to reach 85 per cent of India’s television audience. The ISL is telecast LIVE on a range of Star India’s sports, movie and regional channels – a first in the history of broadcast in India. A brilliant effort by the Star Sports team to increase the reach of the game. On 15 September 2014 Fox Sports announced that they would telecast the matches of Indian Super League in Australia.
We wish ISL all the best and we hope to see India in the FIFA World Cup soon!