Kolkata: With big names like French World Cup winner Robert Pires and former Argentina World Cup captain Juan Pablo Sorin, the Premier League Soccer, spread over seven weeks beginning February end next year, was officially announced here on Thursday.
There will also be some English stalwart coaches - the likes of Arsenal legend and former Portsmouth manager Tony Adams, former Manchester City player and manager Peter Reid and former Liverpool and Jamaica star John Barnes, the organisers announced at a press conference on Thursday.
In a rip-off from cricket's hugely successful money-spinning Indian Premier League, PLS will initially have six franchises with one 'icon' player and successful bidders will pay a yearly franchise fee in the range of Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore. Besides the icon players, there will also be foreign players of international repute in 'Category A' and 'young' footballers who will rub shoulders with Indian names.
"The tournament will give excellent opportunity to the youngsters to play with the big names in the six-eight weeks under highly experienced coaches," Indian Football Association (IFA) Secretary Utpal Ganguli said.
The six franchise towns will be Kolkata, Howrah, Barasat, Durgapur, Midnapore and Siliguri and the tournament will be jointly organised by the IFA and sports management group Celebrity Management Group (CMG).
Asked about its limited presence in the six towns of Bengal, Ganguli said, "We are starting off with these six towns. But the aim is to have a pan-India presence. "There will be television telecast through which we will get a national presence. We are targeting at the youth segment who are hooked to the English Premier League," CMG's Bhaswar Goswami said.
In a move to cash in on the popularity of the sport in this part of the country, CMG announced the names of icon players and icon coaches with whom they were negotiating.
The six 'icon' coaches with whom the organisers have negotiated include Barnes, Adams, Reid, former Barcelona star Marco Etcheverry and Teitur Thordarson of Iceland.
The cap for the icon players will be in the range of USD 4-6 lakh, while for category A players the cap will be USD 2 lakh and USD 1 lakh for young players, Goswami said.
"A USD 2 million cap has been fixed for a franchise," he said.
The icon players include French World Cup winner Pires, 2006 Argentine captain Sorin, Portugal World Cupper Maniche, Nigerian Jay Jay Okocha and retired Portuguese player Sergio Paulo Marceneiro da Conceicao. The organisers said they were yet to finalise more names.
All the icon players, coaches and foreign players, will be put up for auction which will be held before January 15, the day international transfer begins.
"We want to put up at least 8-10 icon players and coaches which will give the franchises best options in the auction," Goswami said.
The organisers said they have already received more than a dozen requests for the ownership of the six franchises and it will be finalised in two days time.
The composition of the team will be as per the existing AIFF rules, according to which a team will be allowed four foreign players, off which three can be part of the playing XI.
"There will be four foreign players, six under 21 players, six catchment players and 10-15 Indian names in a team," Goswami said.
"All these players have formally agreed to play here. We are looking forward to an exciting opportunity which will be ahead of its time."
The format will be of home and away matches for the six outfits and four teams will advance into the semifinal league which will also be played on home and away basis. The two top teams will clash in the final.