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8th franchise uncertain

New Delhi: The uncertainly over the eighth franchise in the Indian Super League (ISL) continued on Wednesday, even as the promoters of the cash-rich meet were all set to stage the draft of foreign players in a posh Mumbai hotel on Thursday morning.

Though the organisers said the tournament would remain an eight-team affair, no information was available on the replacement for the Sun Group-owned Bangalore franchise, which officially pulled out on Wednesday. There are strong speculations that a new franchise would take the team to Chennai, but there was no official confirmation.

The promoters of the ISL and the Sun Group issued a joint statement on Wednesday, making it clear that there would be no ISL match in Bangalore. “Sun Group will be opting out of the Indian Super League football tournament,” the statement said.

The tournament promoters said that they “wish to assure that all the 14 Indian players drafted earlier for Bangalore franchise will have their representation in the Hero ISL.” They, however, remained silent on whether the team would be shifted to Chennai or some other franchise will take up the responsibility.

It is still not clear whether only seven teams would attend the draft or a new franchise would be introduced at the last moment.

On Thursday, French central defenders Bernard Mendy and Gregory Arnolin are set to emerge the highest paid footballers in the foreign players dragt.

While Mendy, a former Hull City player has joined the ISL on a fee of $80,000 for three months, Arnolin, who had played for Paris Saint Germain, would also command a similar price.

Former Arsenal midfielder Fredrik Ljungberg and ex-Newcastle United striker Michael Chopra are not billed to be among the best-paid players. Instead, 34-year-old Spanish defender Jose Miguel Gonzalez Rey is believed to have entered a contract of $70,000 for three months. Having played for Liverpool, Villarreal and Mallorca, the right back has one of the most impressive resumes among the foreign players in the ISL.

Most other foreign footballers, sources said, would be getting between $40,000 to $60,000. Chopra, who once expressed his desire to play for India during the 2011 Asian Cup, would receive little over $58,000.