Indian Super League (ISL) is returning for a fourth season in 2017–2018.According to reports, due to the popular demand for a longer Indian Super League and Football Sports Development Limited’s (FSDL) objective of spreading the game across India, ISL will be spread across a five-month module. The number of participating clubs has also increased to ten from its original eight founding member city clubs.
FSDL, a joint venture between IMG- Reliance and Star India, announced the addition of two of India’s largest conglomerates Tata Steel (US$ 18.12 billion) and subsidiary of Tata Group (US$ 103.51 billion 2015-16) and Jindal South West (JSW) Group (US$ 9 billion) into the ISL fold.
The inclusion of two new clubs came through the ‘Invitation To Bid’ tender process floated by FSDL last month. An independent panel along with consulting firm EY evaluated the bids to present its report on Monday to the panel in the presence of All India Football Federation General Secretary,Kushal Das.
Tata Steel, which has won the bid to participate in ISL from Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, has consistently provided national football with footballers since 1987 through its Jamshedpur based facility, the Tata Football Academy.
Sunil Bhaskaran, Vice President Corporate Services, Tata Steel and Chairman TFA, said, “This is a momentous occasion for Tata Steel, which has always been a pioneer in the development of sports in the country, especially football. Our entry into the coveted Indian Super League reinforces our commitment to provide a fillip to the development of football in the country. We are extremely excited to have won the bid for our hometown Jamshedpur and will provide the best of facilities for football to prosper in the eastern part of our country.”
JSW Groupowns the football club Bengaluru FC through its subsidiary JSW Sports and won the right to participate in ISL from Bengaluru city. To its credit, JSW Group has established a professionally run football club in I-League within a short period of 3 years and won the competition twice including its debut year.
Parth Jindal, CEO, JSW Bangaluru FC attributed JSW Group’s decision to bid for an ISL team to the “interest of long-term future of Indian football.”
Jindal said, “We’re glad that our bid to be part of the ISL has been accepted. A lot of time and thought has gone into our decision to be part of the Indian Super League. The biggest factor has been the interest of the long-term future of Indian football. A longer league is the right road ahead.”
Kushal Das, General Secretary, AIFF expressed satisfaction on the bid evaluation process. He said, “The interest shown by India’s two large corporates to be part of ISL and Indian football’s growth story is an indication of the growing popularity of the sport in the country. Their contribution to Indian football has been immense and will only set the high standards in ISL.”