CHENNAI: In many ways, this is the most important season of the Indian Super League. It is this year that the league will transition from ‘an IPL-style tournament’ with a longer duration, more teams, less foreigners and weekend matches. For teams already leaking money, this translates into even more investment.
For team owners — already making a loss of Rs 30 crore a year — the prospect of spending even more money might not be the most palatable. And everyone, right from league officials to the teams themselves, have been working out strategies to keep spending at an optimum level. For FC Pune City owner CEO Gaurav Modwel, this means compensating for operational costs by reducing spending on players.
“It’s commercially a challenge for everyone,” he told Express. “What happens is that sponsorship amounts might take a little bit of lag, but the costs will go up. We are looking at new ways. A lot of teams will go into apartments. Thankfully, we have a hotel of our own in Pune. What we spend on the players and all change.”
“There will be a huge difference in the way we recruit this year because we are moving more into line with the international standards in terms of what the price should be. Ideally, sponsorship amounts should start going up because of weekend matches. I really feel that we will see revenues go up in the long run.”
Modwel revealed that the drop could be as much as 20 per cent. “The drop could be as much as 20 per cent, in spite of the longer season,” he said. “One advantage is that we are going to have less foreign players. Also, there is the fact that in the draft, the prices of players are more realistic.”
But Modwel was bullish about ISL’s long-term prospects, reasoning that football will be one of the biggest gainers as the country’s sports market grows.“It’s very exciting time in the sense that the clubs are spending a huge amount — Rs 30-40 crore a year,” he said. “It has not happened before where clubs were putting in that kind of money year after year. There is a feeling that eventually when sports in India grow, football will be one of the first to gain. The participation rates are high. The global viewership rates are high. And everyone is taking a punt on this.”