PANAJI: It is exciting times ahead for the football fans in India — and in Goa.
It is time for the Indian Super League (ISL) to take the country by storm as it tries to emulate cricket’s successful example, the Indian Premier League (IPL).
The league promoted by Football Sports Development Private Limited, a joint venture between Mukesh Ambani’s IMG-Reliance and Rupert Murdoch’s Star India has promised to revolutionise the sport of football in India. ISL is sponsored by Hero, which has signed a three-year contract for the chief sponsor role.
Goa, the hub of football in India, is all set to have its own team in the much hyped eight-team league scheduled to run from October 12 to December 20. Team Goa is owned by Videocon Group of Venugopal Dhoot, Dattaraj Salgaocar and Shrinivas Dempo. The team will be launched at a city hotel on Tuesday, August 26.
Dempo and Salgaocar have equal stakes of 37 per cent each with Videocon owning the remaining 26 per cent stake in the franchise.
The franchises were sold to the owners at a base price of ` 120 crore — wherein they will shell out ` 12 crore per year, for a minimum of ten years. The franchises are expected to invest in infrastructure, grassroots developments, including own football academies.
Team Goa will be based in the state and will play its home matches at Nehru Stadium, Fatorda. They have tied up with five-time I-League champions Dempo Sports Club. Dempo will provide its players to the team to fill in the domestic players quota. Dempo coach Arthur Papas has also been named as the ISL team’s assistant coach.
The franchise was the highest spender at the international players central pool draft held in Mumbai recently. The international draft had a total budget allocation of `18 crore but a little over `16 crore was spent. Goa spent ` 2.46 crore on seven foreign players, which included the costliest buy of the draft. French professional defender Gregory Arnolin was bought for an amount of $80,000 (`48.5 lakh), which was the highest bid alongside another Frenchman Bernard Mendy who was bought by Team Chennai for the same amount. Besides the signing amount, the duo will also get additional 33 per cent loan fee for playing in an I-League club.
Goa also picked up Czech striker Miroslav Slepicka, Czech goalkeeper Jan Seda, Portuguese midfielder Bruno Filipe Tavares Pinheiro, French defender Youness Bengelloun, Portuguese striker Miguel Bruno Pereira Herlein and Portuguese midfielder Edgar Carvalho Figueira Marcelino. A total of 49 foreign players were drafted during the draft while seven players have been directly recruited by the teams.
The top four sides in the league will qualify for the semifinals, which will be played over two legs, with the winners advancing to a one-off final. Strict rules apply to player rosters, with each team required to have one marquee player, seven foreigners and 14 Indians, four of whom must be from the city in which the franchise is based.
Goa’s tie-up with Dempo SC, one of the most I-League clubs in the country which is owned by Shrinivas Dempo, means that the Indian players will be provided by the Goan giants. Team Goa have signed up goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani, defenders Debabrata Roy, Narayan Das, Prabir Das, Rowilson Rodrigues, midfielders Gabriel Fernandes, Clifford Miranda, Jewel Raja, Alwyn George, Mandar Rao Desai, Romeo Fernandes, Peter Carvalho, Pronay Halder and forward Holicharan Narzary from Dempo.
The team is likely to announce its head coach at the launch ceremony where the club will unveil its name, logo and the playing kit. The franchise was looking to secure the services of former West Brom manager Steve Clarke. Clarke, 50, a former assistant to Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, was at the helm at the Hawthorns and led the club to their best ever points total in the English Premier League and their highest league finish since 1981 the previous season.
Meanwhile, Goa were also in talks with India cricket star Virat Kohli, who was given the offer to be the team’s brand ambassador. But the franchise has so far not made any announcement regarding any deal with Kohli.