Soccer-loving India celebrities are increasingly expressing their interest to get associated with the ambitious IPL-style league to be hosted by the International Management Group. The latest to evince interest is former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly. According to top source in the Indian football federation, the Prince of Kolkata has "been toying with the idea of buying a franchise."
Several names like John Abraham, Shah Rukh Khan and Mahendra Singh Dhoni are doing the rounds, but insiders say: "Ganguly looks serious but we are not sure if Dhoni is actually keen." (Related read: Dhoni, John Abraham may link up to own IPL-style football league franchise)
Ahead of international stars like Rafael Nadal and Usain Bolt, Dhoni is 16th in the latest Forbes list of highest-paid athletes with an earning of USD 31.5 million (around Rs.180 crore). Among his several endorsements, the Indian captain is currently promoting the English Premier League. A football aficionado, who started his life as a goalkeeper, Dhoni's business interests also centre around a team in the world supersport (motorbike) championship.
Federation sources say Bollywood stars Abraham is quite keen. The eight-team league is slated to be held between January 18 and March 30, 2014. The team auctions will be held in September. Each team will feature 22 players, with 10 foreign players, including a marquee player. Each franchise will also include eight domestic players and four local players from the catchment area in the under-23 category. About 12-15 players will enter the marquee player pool.