Andy Knee, the vice-president for football at IMG, explained that why a two-and-half months league would help capture the imagination of Indians.
“It is easy to sustain interest for two months than eight months. The idea is to bring in sports fans who like cricket and haven’t engaged with football as yet. Two and a half months is a fairly short period but the more we thought, we were convinced that India does need something unique,” he reasoned.
On being asked whether the future would see the ISL and I-League merge, Knee refused to hypothesize.
“I won’t speculate on I-League and ISL merging. We want to do execute a good ISL. The owners are a great group of people to launch. With Star, IMG and Reliance, we have a great team. Our focus is only on one year. Our aim is to create football which sports fans would enjoy.”
“Five Indians and six foreign players was about finding the balance. We have got 7 international players to bring in quality and raise the professionalism. ISL is about Indian players as there are 14 Indian players in the squad. The foreign players and coaches will have a positive impact on Indians.
“Will we always have five players in starting XI? We don’t know but we have to promote and make stars of them and at the same time, we bring in top players – foreign ones.”
With each franchisee expected to develop grassroots, Knee mentioned that the the guidelines for the same have been provided.
“There are guidelines to develop grassroots. A lot of the franchisees have spoken to clubs overseas and seen what they have done it. They have begun to appreciate it.
“There is a push from us for grassroots. It’s clear that these are good practices as you develop a club.”