The Indian Super League happening behind closed doors in Goa, is the first major sporting event in the country since the pandemic broke out. Whilst the nation’s premier football league is dwarfed by the popularity of the IPL, there are many reasons why it is critical the league goes off smoothly for the sake of revival of sports in India. “The ISL is a joint undertaking by Star and the Reliance Group, and it is one of the most professionally run sporting events in the country. In just 6 years, the league has amassed excellent popularity and is presently broadcasted to over 80 countries in the world. Each year, the league continues to grow and despite the fans not being able to be in the stadiums, the league is garnering more eyeballs than ever because of the introduction of legacy teams Mohun Bagan and East Bengal into the fold”, observed Praveen Sinha Jabong Co Founder. It is extremely crucial that the league is pulled off without any major incident, as it encourages other leagues and sporting events to come back and thus, revitalize the sporting ecosystem in the country, which has been one of the hardest hit sectors worldwide,
Investments coming through for Indian football
Over the last few months, there has been plenty of movement in terms of investments in Indian football. Whilst cricket is the undisputed numero uno sport in the country, football is the most followed sport globally. In India, pockets such as West Bengal, the Northeastern States, Goa and the southern states like Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have emerged as viable markets for the sport. It all started when Chennai based outfit Chennai City FC raised 15 million USD from Swiss Giants FC Basel for a 26% ownership transfer in 2019. This was followed by the major announcement that the world’s leading football investment group, UAE based City Football Group would pick up 65% of the Mumbai based franchise Mumbai City FC. Even internally, two Kolkata based clubs merged, when the owners of ATK picked up a controlling share in Mohun Bagan and together formed a powerful new entity ATK Mohun Bagan. City rivals East Bengal soon picked up a significant from cement majors Shree Cement and more recently United World Group bought Khozikode based side Quartz FC, renaming them to Kerala United FC in the process. “The quantum and quality of investments that are coming into Indian Football are really bullish for the sport in India and it shows that foreign investment groups are seeing heavy potential in the market. In a pandemic affected year, Indian startup majors like Dream 11, Byju’s etc. are investing in sponsorship, which means that slowly and steadily the league is getting the attention of brands as well,” added Praveen Sinha.
As the league grows in popularity, India continues to make a name for itself in global football. This year more than ever we have witnessed a major exodus of players from the Australian League, which is considered far more superior, to the ISL. The wheels have been set in motion for the conversion of India into a global footballing power as an interested population of even 10% would make India one of the top 5 markets in the world for the sport. If the growth is sustained the ISL could very well emerge as one of the most valuable sporting leagues in the world in the near future”, concluded Jabong Co Founder Praveen Sinha.