ISL showed what the formula is for Indian football. Bollywood Masala + Cricket + Media Packaging. Football is now no longer second fiddle to cricket in the minds of a sports lover. It has always been an embarrassing and ridiculous that the size and demography such as India has been a one sport nation. That cricket alone sells. The positive start of the tournament gives enough proof that there is room for more sports to thrive and be supported. Football is never going to remain as niche sports anymore.
The current generation is the post EPL 90’s generation which paved the way of giving a breathing lifeline to Indian football culminating to the Indian super league. For the desperate fan who felt disconnected with Indian football restricted to certain geographies in the country can now finally have a chance to support his own club from his home city. This is clearly reflected from the TRP ratings, which in India is now higher than EPL. More good news is the fact that the average attendances for ISL is now the highest in Asia.
2. Indian football can be a packaged as a Brand –
ISL has proved that Indian football can be a brand and if carefully nurtured can be a reliable brand for the future. Indian football fan has suffered so many heartbreaks such as the defunct NFL, non marketing of the I-league, below par performance of the national football team. With ISL’s success Indian football fans can yet again rejoice. ISL’s formula of involving celebrities & the increasing dependency on foreign players may alarm the purists of domestic football, but no one can question that Indian football needed a push from somewhere and it did bring out promising Indian talents. Whether ISL would keep the promise of grass root level development remains to the seen.
3. Bigger stage for domestic players –
ISL, before starting, was primarily criticized for allowing up to 6 foreign players thereby restricting Indian players to compete only for 5 positions in the field. Things looked worse when Indian players started very jittery and were unable to cope up with the pressure of a bigger stage. But as the season grew the domestic players also grew in confidence and in performance. They no longer look like a sore thumb. As we approach the business end of the season, the teams which have decent performing Indian players now hold the key to success in this tournament.
4. Spread of football beyond traditional geographies –
Such has been the state of Indian football that it was primarily restricted to certain geographies. The footballing body has failed to grasp the situation to spread the game. Their recent attempts were not much of success beyond the inclusion of Bengaluru FC in the I-league.
ISL has spread the boundaries to Delhi & Chennai. They have done a rejuvenation of sorts of by bringing the likes of North East representation in Guwahati & Goa under a single support banner, which have not disappointing in terms of support and marketability of the popular game.
5. Corporate venture into Indian football –
The heartening thing that has happened to Indian super league is the overwhelming corporate interest in the support of this league. You have sponsorship all the way from Hero’s association to the kits.
One of The key barometer to any sporting success is corporate interest. ISL has succeeded in bringing corporate interest to Indian football which underlines the trust and brand value potential of ISL and in its extension a boost of confidence to Indian Football.