In 2010, International Management Group (IMG) and Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL) signed a joint-venture agreement which leads them to secure the commercial rights for organizing an IPL-style football tournament with the help of the All India Football Federation (AIFF). The deal was close to Rs. 700/- crores. AIFF won the bidding to host FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017. 21st October 2013 was the date on which IMG-Reliance, AIFF, and Star Sports formed an organization which is known as Football Sports Development (FSDL).
In 2014, the I-League team Chennai City FC send the desist notice to Chennaiyin FC regarding the dispute of infringement of the trademark. However, things get sorted between both parties as they get settled their dispute. The credit shall be given to the legal team of Chennaiyin FC for successfully defended their dispute without an alarming huge litigation process. Therefore, the team owners need to protect their intangible assets like Trademark to avoid such disputes which can cost a huge amount of damages.
In 2010, the All India Football Federation cancel their deal with ZEE Entertainment Enterprises regarding the telecast of their domestic league matches. After the inception of IMG Reliance with Star Sports as the promoter were to introduced a league in IPL style, the AIFF, later on, agreed to sell their telecast or broadcasting rights to Star Sports for their Durand Cup, Indian Super League, and other domestic leagues, excluding I-League. The Indian Super League is the fourth most viewed football league in the world. The total market value of the Indian Super League is EUR 45.38 million.
In the 2019-20 season of ISL, Spanish player Javi Hernández was signed by ATK at Rs. 4.37/- crore [Rupees Four Crore Thirty-Seven Lakhs only] and declared as the most expensive signing have ever done in the history of the Indian Super League. Sunil Chettri is the most expensive Indian Football player signed in the ISL by the Bengaluru FC at the amount of Rs. 2.5/- crore [Rupees Two Crore Five Lakhs only].
In Indian Super League, various club owners don’t know how to operate the club, how to sign any player, what kind of players they needed, what kind of gameplay can be suited in the Indian Subcontinent, and what kind of style can be benefited to the Indian players. Therefore, many club owners come to a legal arrangement to acquire such knowledge.
Delhi Dynamos, a former ISL club in Delhi was done their alliance with the Eredivisie elite club, Feyenoord Rotterdam. Atletico de Madrid was partnered and buy 25% shares in the Kolkata franchise which was formally known as Atletico de Kolkata. FC Pune City was also done their technical partnership with Italian-based Serie A club ACF Fiorentina. City Football Group, who owned London based Manchester City FC and partly owned New York City FC in the US, Melbourne City FC in Australia, Yokohama F. Marino in Japan, Montevideo City Torque in Uruguay, Spanish Club Girona, Sichuan Jiuniu in China, and Lommel SK in Belgium, acquired 65% stakes of Mumbai based football club which is Mumbai City FC. This deal was one of the biggest acquisitions done by any foreign football club in the Indian Super League.
ATK has done its merge with Mohun Bagan FC. It is one of the oldest and historic clubs in India. After this merger, the historic club again rejuvenated and changed its name to ATK-Mohun Bagan FC. The two champions club already had a great history in terms of their participation in a different league. East Bengal FC which was previously owned by the Bengaluru-based Quess Corp. was not been able to operate this organization due to financial instability in the company. On Sep. 3, 2020, Shree Cement Limited which is a Kolkata-based company, agreed to buy majority shares of 76% of the club. After 3 weeks, the club transferred its sporting rights to Shree Cement East Bengal Foundation including its assets, liability, and intellectual property to the new company.
The German powerhouse club, Borussia Dortmund did a partnership with Hyderabad FC for developing a youth development program system for Indian football. Such more investment needs to be done by big corporate houses. Barcelona FC has a very unique concept of ownership which is known as Club Member Ownership. There are 1,40,000 socis or members in Catalan who have the club owner membership. Such a concept can be adopted by Indian football clubs by inviting subscription of membership at an affordable rate. This can further become a norm to involve more fans by giving voting rates, exclusive season tickets, and many other perks.
The Indian Football players were part of the European clubs like Bhaichung Bhutia who spent five years in English Club Bury, Sunil Chhetri played for Kansas City Wizard in the USA & also for Sporting CP (Portugal Club) in their reserve team and recently Gurpreet Singh Sandhu becomes the first Indian football player to play in UEFA Europa League.
The ISL is heading in the right direction. The Indian Super League is valued around INR. 3.7 billion. However, we need to evolve our football structure if we want to qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2026. It is also the responsibility of Football Clubs and player’s sports agents/ lawyers to protect the interest of the clubs and players before it gets infringed or any legal dispute arises.