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Bidding process to begin today

New Delhi: A Mumbai-based film star and a top former India cricketer are likely to stake claim for the Calcutta-based franchise team when the bidding process for the Indian Super League (ISL) football starts on Monday.

The eight-team city based tournament, which was supposed to start in January before being postponed till September, is being organised by IMG-Reliance, the marketing partners of the All India Football Federation (AIFF). The tournament organisers, on Sunday, finally announced plans to commence the bidding process for ISL clubs through “Invitation to Bid” or ITB tender documents in respect of the initial nine cities, namely Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Guwahati, Kochi, Calcutta, Mumbai and Pune.

Sources said the tournament organisers are hoping to raise a strong franchise in Calcutta. The city, according to them, could be a great source of success. “The early indications are that we could have some serious bidders for the Calcutta team. The bidders include a film star and a former cricketer. But unlike other cities, no existing club in the city have shown interest to bid so far,” a source said.

In Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka, the owners of the I-League clubs have expressed eagerness to get involved in the ISL and could be among the possible bidders. The organisers are hoping that though many corporate houses would procure bidding documents, there would be at least 15 to 20 serious bidders for eight teams.

All franchise teams would be allowed to recruit 18 to 25 players for the league. The rules may also allow the franchises to recruit at least seven to 10 foreign players each. However, there is no confirmation about the foreign players, who have agreed to participate in the ISL. The ISL, though projected only as a tournament, has also raised question marks over the future of the I-League.