With just over two months to go before it kicks off, the Indian Super League (ISL) has entered into a strategic partnership with the English Premier League (EPL).
In addition, the EPL will assist in establishing club governance, shaping the brand, fan engagement, defining anti-corruption and anti-doping policies for the ISL, as well as joint promotion of the ISL and Premier League Football in India.
ISL aims to foster local talent and feature International stars, making the game one of the country's flagship sports and India. ISL will feature eight franchises from Bangalore, Delhi, Goa, Guwahati, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune.
Through the alliance, ISL will help the Premier League and its Clubs in staging football matches and assist in other business development initiatives in India. This will encourage exchange programmes and partnerships between clubs of the two leagues. The ISL-EPL combine will also cross-promote football coverage on Star India's platform to the growing Indian fan base.
The All India Football Federation's (AIFF) president Praful Patel said he was "pleased" to be a part of the strategic partnership. "This is an outstanding opportunity for the ISL to build from the very best in the business when it comes to running a highly successful league."
Says Richard Scudamore, CEO of the Premier League, "We know from Star India and our long-established grassroots football project, Premier Skills (in collaboration with the AIFF), run in several locations across India, that the popularity of football - and the Premier League - is growing. There is a further opportunity to develop the sport as a result of that increased interest and we hope to continue to make a real contribution to all levels of Indian football."
According to Nita M. Ambani "partnering with Premier League brings credence to ISL and our vision of popularising the sport in India." Uday Shankar, CEO, Star India believes that the partnership puts belief in Star's Sports philosophy 'Believe.' "Star strongly believes in creating local heroes, inspiring Indians to believe greatness is possible through sport and together we can create a world where sports comes first. The partnership with the Premier League is going to help us achieve just that. Star India will cross promote coverage of the ISL and the Premier League to the growing base of football fans in India."
For the record, the ISL is co-promoted by IMG-Reliance (a joint venture between IMG and Reliance Industries) and Star India with support from the AIFF. According to the figures given out by the company, EPL is the most watched annual global sporting event in the world. Last season, 13.9 million fans attended matches with record average stadium occupancy of 95.9 per cent. Across nine months, 380 matches are viewed in 175 countries with coverage available in more than 650 million homes.