The names of former cricket captains Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly and Bollywood stars Ranbir Kapoor and Salman Khan were doing the rounds as probable owners as the much awaited franchise line-up of the Indian Super League (ISL) football tournament is all set to be announced on Sunday. (Note: Adjoining image is for representational purpose only)
Den Cable, owned by Sameer Manchanda, may get Delhi, while Tendulkar, Ganguly and Ranbir may settle for Kochi, Kolkata and Mumbai franchises. Salman had shown his interest in the Pune franchise. The eight cities who have likely made the cut are Delhi, Mumbai, Kochi, Kolkata, Bangalore, Pune, Goa, and Guwahati. The two-month tournament will be played in September.
The ISL is managed by IMG-Reliance, commercial partners of the All India Football Federation (AIFF). The league will be held in association with Star India. A top official in the AIFF told IANS that Sun TV, which also owns Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Sunrisers Hyderabad, may get the Banglaore franchise.
A consortium, involving family members of mining giants Dempo and Salgaocar, are doing the rounds for the Goa franchise. Another Bollywood star John Abraham's name is also doing the rounds for the Guwahati franchise. John has reportedly formed a consortium with a top football administrator from the north-east, who also owns an I-League club.
Some 30 corporates had picked up tender documents for the new IPL-style football league but only eight made the final cut. Audit firm Ernst and Young evaluated the bids for IMG-Reliance.
"Once the franchise line-up is final, the owners will start development activities in their area in the run-up to the inaugural tournament," an IMG-Reliance official told IANS on the condition of anonymity.
Sources in the AIFF told IANS that some high-profile names like Shah Rukh Khan, who owns IPL franchise Kolkata Knight Riders, and Abhishek Bachchan may have lost out in their bids despite showing initial interest.
Some of the yesteryear stars like Hernan Crespo, Robbie Fowler, Thierry Henry and Dwight Yorke may also be seen in action in the ISL.