Reliance Industries, STAR India and IMG are set to launch the 'Indian Super League,' a football championship that will foster local talent and feature international stars with the aim of making the game one of the country's flagship sports in India.
The 'Indian Super League' will feature eight city-specific teams to start with and will tap the growing interest among the country's young population.
The league will kick-off in January, 2014, and will run through March, 2014, with plans for a second window in the same year.
STAR India owns the broadcast and sponsorship rights of the league and will look at monetising it both on-air and on-ground.
The annual global revenue for football is estimated at $28 billion, according to a study by AT Kearney. STAR India, which also holds telecast rights to BCCI cricket matches in India, will use its content creation, packaging and presentation expertise to whet and retain viewer interest.
"Football, with its largely untapped potential in the country, has the opportunity to grow to an unrivalled commercial success quite unlike any other sport. We hope the growing football footprint will pave the way for the nation's sporting renaissance,'' says Nita M Ambani, chairperson of IMG-Reliance.
Uday Shankar, CEO of STAR India, says, "India is hungry for its second sport. Combined with our expertise in sports production, our attempt is to bring an unparalleled football experience to our viewers. For far too long, the Indian sports fan has quietly waited for this revolution on the cusp of which we stand today. Our objective is nothing short of creating a movement around football in India. We want to put India on the global map."
"Indian Super League will feature international football stars combined with good football facilities, rivalry between India's biggest cities and the roar of a billion passionate fans,'' adds Mike Dolan, chairman and CEO, IMG Worldwide. ''It envisions creating new football powerhouses in this part of the world, which will rise to global prominence as the country and the sport further develop.''
The league will have "world-class" international players play with the best from India. Each team will have one marquee player, international players and the best of Indian talent. It will also implement various football development projects aimed at holistic development of the sport in the country, including engaging with the masses to get them excited about football, encouraging families to regularly involve their children in football, creating an infrastructure to identify talented footballers at a young age and groom them into elite professionals and creating a critical mass of highly talented coaches to work at all levels of football in India.