The Hero Indian Super League (ISL) franchises chose their seven international players each at the draft process in Mumbai on Thursday.
The international player selection marked the completion of the drafting process for the inaugural season of the ISL, which kicks off on October 12. The teams picked 56 international players, 49 (estimated Rs 17-18 crore spend) on Wednesday and seven contracted directly. In July, the clubs had selected 112 Indian players to complete the domestic players’ mandate of 14 a team.
Unlike the star-studded Indian Premier League auctions, the ISL player draft focused on the team’s choice of players that included Bojan Djordjic who has played for the Manchester United, and Michael Chopra, a product of the Newcastle Youth System. Though the team representatives were present, the owners, like Sourav Ganguly (Kolkata), Ranbir Kapoor (Mumbai), John Abraham (Northeast) and Salman Khan (Pune), were absent.
At the Hero ISL draft, the pool included players who had played for international clubs and their respective countries. Most players are on lease from their clubs, while some like Michael Chopra are free agents.
Apart from the 14 Indian players, seven international players and one marquee player each that the teams have contracted, franchises can independently contract up to five more players.
“The 49 players who went into the draft have had close to 9,000 games between them,” Andy Knee, vice-president, football, IMG, said. “It only speaks about the experience and the competition they will bring into the Hero ISL.”
The draft process included the eight teams taking turns to select players as the names came up in groups of seven. On the eve of the drafting process, the teams were allotted the sequence of selection for the seven rounds. The Sun Group, which bid for and owned the team for Bangalore, opted out of the tournament and was replaced by a team from Chennai. While a representative did participate in the draft, the team owner’s name will be announced over the next week.
The league is promoted by a joint venture (JV) of IMG-Reliance and Star India. The JV operates through a company called Football Sports Development. Next week, the company will be unveiling the league’s logo and introducing some marquee players at a launch event.