Despite the Indian Super League (ISL) gaining much traction with the support of domestic stars including Bollywood and cricket celebrities, the league was waiting for some sort of international exposure leading up to the inaugural season. Prayers were answered as the ISL is now under a strategic partnership with the English Premier League (EPL) – easily the world’s most successful football league – to improve and develop the infrastructure of football in India.
“Having earlier this year signed a mutual co-operation agreement with the Asian Football Confederation, we are very pleased to also enter into this partnership with ISL,” said Richard Scudamore, chief executive of the EPL. “This will see both organisations work together and share knowledge in several key areas including player development, refereeing, marketing and promotion.”
Simply put, the agreement with the EPL will allow the ISL to learn from the best. By receiving strategic support and advice, the ISL will develop at a much quicker rate than it could have otherwise.
“We know from our broadcast partner Star India, and our work with AIFF on our long-established grassroots football project Premier Skills that we run in several locations across India, that the popularity of football, and Premier League, is growing,” said Scudamore. “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.”
The ISL will include eight franchises from Bangalore, Delhi, Goa, Guwahati, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune.
While cricket has been India’s backbone, football has been the more underrated passion. According to Times of India, India is the EPL’s No. 1 market in terms of social media engagement, “with an average reach of 1.48m Indian fans every week.”
By following a certain process, which it now will with the EPL backing them, the ISL will change the landscape of sports in its first season that kicks off in September 2014.