On the back of strengthening club participation from eight to ten teams in the Indian Super League (ISL), its soaring viewership and the league’s commitment to grassroots football paying off, Nita Ambani, chairperson, Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) on Sunday said, that India is undergoing a football renaissance and that the newer, longer league would be more exciting and player-friendly. “It is going to be an exciting new journey, a longer season, kicking off this November. Both in terms of number of matches moving up from 61 to 95 and the duration from two and a half months to five months. The longer season will ensure sufficient rest for players between the matches and will help in the quality of play getting better. I am also happy that we are seeing greater interest from corporates to be associated with ISL,” Ambani said during the opening address at the ISL Indian Player Draft.
She also announced that Hero Moto Corp has extended their association with Indian football as the lead sponsor for the next three years, at 25 million USD. Ambani also welcomed the two new teams Jamshedpur FC and Bengaluru FC into the league. “A very special welcome to the two new clubs – Jamshedpur FC promoted by Tata Steel and Bengaluru FC promoted by JSW. The Tatas have had a rich legacy of promoting football in India. The Jindals have a strong fan base in Bengaluru and have been a great supporter of Indian football. We are delighted to have both these groups join Hero ISL and I am sure this partnership and support will further strengthen our league,” she said.
Listing out the achievements of the ISL over the last three seasons, Ambani said that the league had “rekindled” love for the beautiful game in India, which now ranks 96th in the world from 173 in 2015.