Batting legends Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly were among the host of high-profile winning bidders as the organisers of the much-anticipated Indian Super League unveiled the eight franchises for the event.
The bid winners for the eight franchises of the league, which is scheduled to be held in September-November, were announced by organisers IMG-Reliance after evaluation of the bids by a seven-member panel.
Tendulkar bagged the Kochi franchise along with PVP Ventures, which also owns a team in the Indian Badminton League, while Ganguly, who bid by forming a consortium with Spanish League giants Atletico Madrid and businessmen Harshavardhan Neotia, Sanjeev Goenka and Utsav Parekh, won the Kolkata franchise.
The Mumbai franchise went to Bollywood star Ranbir Kapoor and Bimal Parekh while another tinsel town biggie Salman Khan bagged the Pune franchise together with Kapil Wadhawan and Dheeraj Wadhawan of the Wadhawan Group.
Another actor John Abraham teamed up with I-League side from the northeast, Shillong Lajong, to bag the franchise to be based in Guwahati.
The remaining three teams went to Sameer Manchanda-led Den Network for Delhi, Sun Group, the owners of IPL team Hyderabad Surisers, for Bengaluru and the consortium of Venugopal Dhoot of Videocon, Dattaraj Salgaocar and Shrinivas V Dempo for Goa.
On winning the bid for Kochi franchise, Tendulkar said: "I will always remain a sportsman at heart who is keen to positively impact the sporting fabric of the nation. The Indian Super League presents a great opportunity to develop a platform for the youngsters to learn and enhance their talent to develop into outstanding players."
"With the Kochi club, we will strive to 'score our goals' and play a part in developing the game of football across the country," the batting maestro added.
"It is a moment of great pride for me to be a part of the Indian Super League and to represent the vibrant city of Mumbai," said Bollywood actor Ranbir Kapoor. "Football has never been far away from my daily life since childhood, and now as a partner in the Indian Super League, I am looking forward to translate my passion into contributing to the growth of the sport," said Ranbir.
Organised by IMG-Reliance in association with Star India, the league has the backing of AIFF, and is set to see big names as icon players such as former France international Robert Pires and ex-Sweden and Arsenal player Fredrik Ljungberg.
Sources said that the organisers received positive response from more than 30 interested parties to its 'Invitation To Bid' tender notice, which closed on March 27.
It is learnt that around 18 to 20 bidders had put in their money on ISL either through forming a consortium or individually. This is for the first time that a franchise property in sports in India has elicit such a response from the business as well as sports and Bollywood community.
Here is the full list of eight franchises in ISL:
BENGALURU - The Sun Group
DELHI - Sameer Manchanda led Den Network
GOA - Venugopal Dhoot (Videocon), Dattaraj Salgaocar and Shrinivas V. Dempo
GUWAHATI - John Abraham & Shillong Lajong
KOCHI - Sachin Tendulkar & PVP Ventures
KOLKATA - Sourav Ganguly, Harshavardhan Neotia, Atletico Madrid, Sanjeev Goenka, Utsav Parekh
MUMBAI - Bollywood actor Ranbir Kapoor and Bimal Parekh
PUNE - Salman Khan together with Kapil Wadhawan and Dheeraj Wadhawan of the Wadhawan Group
(With inputs from PTI)