LONDON — Bollywood stars Salman Khan, Ranbir Kapoor, John Abraham, retired cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and Saurav Ganguly and Spanish club Atletico Madrid are among the owners of the eight franchises announced for the Indian Super League (ISL) soccer tournament, the inaugural season of which will kick off in September. Talent agency IMG-Reliance and 21st Century Fox’s Star India are backing the tournament with the All India Football Federation.
The ISL is modeled on the flourishing Indian Premier League cricket tournament where teams are owned by a mix of Bollywood stars and big business. Soccer is popular in some of the franchise regions but in the rest, the glimpse of Bollywood or cricket superstar could be an attraction.
“With our expertise in marketing and production of sports content, our task is cut out to etch football in the sports culture of India,” said Uday Shankar, CEO of Star India, “The nation has been awaiting its second sport for far too long.”
The franchise owners are: media and aviation conglomerate Sun Group for Bengaluru; Sameer Manchanda of the Den Network, for Delhi; Venugopal Dhoot of electronics giant Videocon, mining magnates Dattaraj Salgaocar and Shrinivas V. Dempo for Goa; John Abraham and soccer club Shillong Lajong for Guwahati; Sachin Tendulkar and media investor PVP Ventures for Kochi; Sourav Ganguly, real estate baron Harshavardhan Neotia, Atletico Madrid, businessmen Sanjeev Goenka and Utsav Parekh for Kolkata; Ranbir Kapoor and chartered accountant Bimal Parekh for Mumbai; and Salman Khan with Kapil Wadhawan and Dheeraj Wadhawan for Pune.