Indian Super League
|Founded||21 October 2013|
|Number of teams||8|
|Level on pyramid||1|
|Current champions||Atlético de Kolkata (1st title)
|Most championships||Atlético de Kolkata
|TV partners||See media coverage|
|2015 ISL season|
The Indian Super League (ISL) (currently known as the Hero Indian Super League for sponsorship reasons) is a professional football league in India. The league is one of the top-tier football leagues in India, the other being the I-League. The league features eight franchise teams from all around India. The ISL runs from September to December, with a finals series determining the champion.
The Indian Super League was founded in 2013 in an effort to make football a top sport in India and to make Indian football a major player worldwide. The league operates along the lines of the Twenty20 cricket Indian Premier League, and Major League Soccer of the United States. Unlike the majority of football leagues around the world, the ISL does not use the promotion and relegation system but instead a franchise system in which eight teams were created to participate in the league.
The inaugural season of the league started on 12 October 2014 and concluded on 20 December 2014. The current champions are Atlético de Kolkata, who won the 2014 season by beating the Kerala Blasters 1–0.
- 1 History
- 2 Competition format
- 3 Teams
- 4 Organization
- 5 Team performances
- 6 Player records
- 7 Criticisms
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
On 9 December 2010, the All India Football Federation signed a 15-year, 700-crore deal with Reliance Industries and the International Management Group of the United States. The deal gave IMG-Reliance exclusive commercial rights to sponsorship, advertising, broadcasting, merchandising, video, franchising, and rights to create a new football league. This deal came after the AIFF ended their 10-year deal with Zee Sports five years early in October 2010.
On 25 April 2011, the first version of an IPL-type 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. This league was not connected with the AIFF or IMG-Reliance. All six franchises would be based within West Bengal. The league would have featured 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.
In early 2012, the first rumours of an Indian Premier League-type football league, organized by IMG-Reliance, started arising after a conflict between the owners of the I-League clubs and the AIFF over lack of communication. The rumour was that IMG-Reliance had planned on reforming the I-League along the lines of the IPL and Major League Soccer in the United States. These rumours were confirmed to be true in 2013 when, despite the failure of the Bengal Premier League Soccer, the AIFF approved IMG-Reliance's proposal for another IPL-style league for 2014, including all of India.
Early hits towards the proposed league followed soon after, with owners of the I-League clubs fully going against this idea. The owners formed an organization known as the Indian Professional Football Clubs Association and stated that they would go against loaning out their players to IMG-Reliance for the league and go against signing any players already signed by IMG-Reliance. However, in August 2013, it was reported that IMG-Reliance had already signed the required amount of Indian players needed.
The Indian Super League was officially launched on 21 October 2013 by IMG–Reliance, STAR Sports, and the AIFF. The league was announced to take place from January 2014 to March 2014. However, on 29 October 2013, it was announced that the ISL would be postponed to September 2014. Also in October, it was announced that former Manchester United player and France international Louis Saha had become the first marquee signing for the Indian Super League.
At first, it was announced that bidding for the eight Indian Super League teams would be complete before the end of 2013 and that there was already high-interest from big corporates, Indian Premier League teams, Bollywood stars, and other consortiums. However, due to the rescheduling of the league, the bidding was moved to 3 March 2014. It was also revealed around this time that not only would bidders need to comply with a financial requirement but they would also need to promote grassroots development plans for football within their area. Finally, in early April 2014, the winning bidders were announced. The selected cities/state in April 2014 were Bangalore, Delhi, Goa, Guwahati, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Pune. Former India cricket player Sachin Tendulkar, along with PVP Ventures, won the bidding for the Kochi franchise. Another former Indian cricket player, Sourav Ganguly, along with a group of Indian businessmen and La Liga side Atlético Madrid, won the bid for the Kolkata franchise. Meanwhile, Bollywood stars John Abraham, Ranbir Kapoor, and Salman Khan won the bid for the Guwahati, Mumbai, and Pune franchises respectively. Bangalore and Delhi were won by companies while Goa was won by a partnership between Videocon and I-League sides Dempo and Salgaocar.
The first team to be launched officially was the Kolkata franchise as Atlético de Kolkata on 7 May 2014. On 7 July 2014, the team announced the first head coach signing in Indian Super League with Antonio López Habas taking the reigns. The next day, Kolkata also announced the first official marquee signing in the Indian Super League when they signed UEFA Champions League winner Luis García.
Eventually, all eight teams were revealed as Atlético de Kolkata, Bangalore Titans, Delhi Dynamos, Goa, Kerala Blasters, Mumbai City, NorthEast United, and Pune City. However, on 21 August 2014, it was announced that due to Bangalore's owners dropping out, Chennai would be given a franchise instead. The team was eventually named Chennaiyin. At the same time, the original marquee players were Luis García, Elano, Alessandro Del Piero, Robert Pirès, David James, Fredrik Ljungberg, Joan Capdevila, and David Trezeguet.
The inaugural season began on 12 October 2014 at the Salt Lake Stadium when Atlético de Kolkata defeated Mumbai City 3–0. The first goal was scored by Fikru Teferra. The inaugural final was held on 20 December 2014 with Atlético de Kolkata becoming champions after defeating Kerala Blasters at the DY Patil Stadium.
For the 2015 season, the Indian Super League will run from September to December. Teams play 14 matches against the other seven sides twice, home and away. In total, there are 56 games played during the regular season before the top 4 teams go into the finals. The finals include only a semi-final round and the final. The semi-final round is done in a two-legged format while the final is a one-off match played at a neutral venue.
|Atlético de Kolkata||Kolkata, West Bengal||Salt Lake Stadium||2014||Antonio López Habas|
|Chennaiyin||Chennai, Tamil Nadu||Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium (Chennai)||2014||Marco Materazzi|
|Delhi Dynamos||Delhi||Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium (Delhi)||2014||TBA|
|Goa||Margao, Goa||Fatorda Stadium||2014||Zico|
|Kerala Blasters||Kochi, Kerala||Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium (Kochi)||2014||Peter Taylor|
|Mumbai City||Mumbai, Maharashtra||DY Patil Stadium||2014||TBA|
|NorthEast United||Guwahati, Assam||Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium||2014||TBA|
|Pune City||Pune, Maharashtra||Balewadi Sports Complex||2014||David Platt|
Just like the Indian Premier League, the Indian Super League has a similar ownership model in which the teams are owned by prominent businessmen, as well as celebrity owners from bollywood and cricket. The Indian Super League owners act as the league's "League Partners". British professional services group, Ernst & Young, were hired to draw up a criteria for the team bidding process and they were required to approve the bidders. In April 2014 the owners were announced. Bollywood stars such as Ranbir Kapoor, John Abraham, and Salman Khan were bid winners, as well as cricket stars such as Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly. Football clubs such as Atlético Madrid and Shillong Lajong were also bid winners.
Despite carefully selecting their owners, the Indian Super League has seen trouble in the past with their owners. In August 2014, two months before the first season, SUN Group, the owners of the Bangalore franchise, dropped out of the league after the league rejected their potential tie-up with I-League club Bengaluru FC. Later that month, it was announced that another Bollywood star, Abhishek Bachchan, would take over the last franchise spot and move the team from Bangalore to Chennai.
Squad formation and salaries
During the 2014 season, the average salary for a foreign player in the Indian Super League was approximately 36.5 lakh (~$60,000) while the average salary for an Indian player was approximately 24 lakh. The highest payed player that season was former Italian international Alessandro Del Piero, earning $1,700,000 for his three-month stint in India. The highest payed Indian players that season were Subrata Pal and Syed Rahim Nabi. Both players earned 80 lakh.
During the league's inaugural season, a variety of stadiums were used. Two of the stadiums, the DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai and the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi, are mainly used as cricket stadiums. Three other stadiums are athletic stadiums which are primarily used to host football matches in the I-League: the Fatorda Stadium in Goa, the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata, and the Balewadi Stadium in Pune. Three other venues were used which don't primarily host top-tier professional football: the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Assam, the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai, and the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi.
On 18 July 2014, it was announced that Hero MotoCorp would be the first title sponsor of the Indian Super League. The deal is scheduled to last for three-years from 2014 to 2016. Then, on 30 September 2014, a week before the first season, it was announced that German sports manufacture, Puma SE, would be the official ball supplier of the Indian Super League. The company provides balls for matches and training sessions.
Along with Hero and Puma, on 9 October 2014, it was announced that the Indian Super League organizers had signed sponsorship deals with five companies. Maruti Suzuki was signed in as an associate sponsor, while PepsiCo and Amul also signed deals.
With STAR Sports being one of the organizers of the Indian Super League, they also serve as the official broadcasters of the league in India. The goal of STAR Sports for the league was to "use its superior content creation, packaging and presentation expertise to attract and retain viewer interest." In September 2014 it was announced that STAR Sports would broadcast the ISL through eight channels and five different languages in an attempt to reach 85% of the Indian television audience, the first of its kind in Indian sporting history.
The first match of the Indian Super League, between Atlético de Kolkata and Mumbai City on 12 October 2014, reportedly drew a television audience of 75 million people. The first week reportedly drew 170 million people in total. These numbers were 12 times more than what India drew for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and around 20-30 times more than what the I-League, India's other top-tier football league, drew on TEN Action and even the Premier League. Overall, at the end of the first season, it was reported that the ISL drew a total of 429 viewers across India, just a bit lower than the Pro Kabaddi League, and two and a half times more than the FIFA World Cup. It was also reported that 57% of the viewers were women and children and that the STAR Sports website gained 32 million visits during the tournament.
The Indian Super League is also broadcast around the world. On 15 October 2014 it was announced officially where the league was being broadcast. In the United States and Australia, the league was shown by FOX Sports. In Europe and South-East Asia the league was shown by Eurosport and in the UK and some of Europe the league is shown by STAR Gold. In Africa the league was shown through SuperSport.
Titles and performance
|Atlético de Kolkata||2014–||1||Champions (2014)|
|Kerala Blasters||2014–||0||Runners-up (2014)|
|Delhi Dynamos||2014–||0||5th (2014)|
|Pune City||2014–||0||6th (2014)|
|Mumbai City||2014–||0||7th (2014)|
|NorthEast United||2014–||0||8th (2014)|
|Season||Champions||Runners-up||Semi-finalists||No. of teams|
|2014||Atlético de Kolkata||Kerala Blasters||Chennaiyin||Goa||8|
- As of 20 December 2014
Statistics below are for all-time leaders.
|Kristof Van Hout|
Due to the format of the Indian Super League, the league has taken plenty of criticism, especially leading into its first season. I-League club Churchill Brothers argued that the league would do more harm to football in India than good. Their main criticism was with the length of the league: "How do you even call it a league? You need at least six months to term yourself a league". Other critics have also questioned whether the league would actually improve the quality of Indian football and that the league might succeed in bringing spectators to the stadiums and increasing the amount of money the organizers have. The All India Football Federation director, Gautam Kar, has hit out at these criticisms, saying that the league will answer the critics in due time.
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