New Delhi: The organizers of Indian Super League on Thursday invited bids for interested parties to buy a maximum of three franchise teams to be added this season with the possibility of the country's football hub Kolkata having another club besides Atletico de Kolkata.
The ISL said bids would be invited in respect of 10 cities -- Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Cuttack, Durgapur, Hyderabad, Jamshedpur, Kolkata, Ranchi, Siliguri and Thiruvananthapuram -- and one to three new winning bidders will be awarded the right to participate in the ISL.
"Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL), organizers of the Indian Super League - a city based football league established in India in 2014 under the sanction of the AIFF, plans to invite bids from interested parties to enrol and participate in the Indian Super League from its fourth edition to be staged in year 2017-2018," the ISL said in a statement.
"FSDL will be floating the tender through 'Invitation To Bid' (ITB) to be available on working days starting 12th May 2017 to 24th May 2017.
"Bids are invited from prospective team owners in respect of 10 cities i.e. Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Cuttack, Durgapur, Hyderabad, Jamshedpur, Kolkata, Ranchi, Siliguri and Thiruvananthapuram. Under and subject to the ITB, one to three new winning bidders shall be enrolled and awarded the right to participate in the Indian Super League," the statement added.
This comes just a few days after the All Indian Football Federation said, following a meeting with I-League clubs Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, that the ISL could be expanded to a seven-month long league to be played at weekends.
The two Kolkata giants had met the AIFF top brass in the backdrop of a controversy surrounding the merger plans of the federation which would virtually make I-League the second tier and ISL the top tier leagues of the domestic football structure.
There were proposals that the two Kolkata giants and Bengaluru FC could be added in the expanded ISL. That led to newly-crowned I-League champions Aizawl FC threatening to undergo "fast undo death" if they were not included in a merged top tier league.
Mohun Bagan and East Bengal had wanted waiver of the huge registration fee to be part of the ISL but after a meeting with the AIFF top brass and ISL organizers, they opted not to be part of the proposed league.
Mohun Bagan General Secretary Anjan Mitra said that his club was not interested in owning a franchise team and so not buying the bid documents.
"Our president has made it clear that we are not going to be part of the ISL and so there is no question of buying any bid document," Mitra told PTI.
"Our only concern is that I-League should continue to be the official league of the country and it's winner should play in the Asian Champions League play-off while the Federation Cup winners should play in the AFC Cup," he added.
Meanwhile, ISL clarified that in case of Kolkata being awarded the winning bidder, the respective team shall would hold its home games outside Kolkata for the next two consecutive editions (2017-2018 and 2018-2019).
"All bidding parties will need to fulfill the eligibility criteria and other requirements specified in the ITB including but not limited to summary of plans to operate their team in the league, including the business model and plan to develop the sport at the grassroots level. The bid documents must be submitted on Thursday, 25th May 2017," the ISL said further.
Eight teams -- Atletico de Kolkata, Chennaiyin FC, Delhi Dynamos FC, FC Goa, FC Pune City, Kerala Blasters FC, NorthEast United FC and Mumbai City FC -- currently participate in the ISL.