Indian Super League (ISL) 2020-21 is set to kickstart from tonight and will be played behind closed doors in Goa due to the lockdown imposed by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The season will witness no fans in the stadiums, which makes it imperative for the league to encash in on the television audience.
Investors and sponsors from across the world are entering the Indian football scene, skyrocketing player salaries and wage demands. The ISL 2020-21 teams are some of the most valuable teams in the history of Indian football. Let us have a look:
1. Kerala Blasters FC – INR 539.50m
The runners-up of 2014 as well as the 2016 ISL seasons, Kerala Blasters FC have recruited some smart foreign players, including Vicente Gómez, Gary Hooper, Costa Nhamoinesu and Bakar Kone. Hooper, who has played two seasons in the Premier League, has arrived on a one-year deal and remains the most expensive player of the lot. It’s no surprise then that Kerala Blasters is currently the most valuable club in ISL.
Named after the ‘Master Blaster’ moniker of cricket great Sachin Tendulkar, who briefly co-owned the side, the team has seen some heavy investors including film stars Chiranjeevi and Akkineni Nagarjuna and producer Allu Aravind over the years. As of now, the team is owned by Blasters Sports Ventures Private Limited (BSVPL) and will see a new shirt sponsor in BYJU’S during ISL 2020-21 after ending their five-year association with Muthoot Group
2. ATK Mohun Bagan FC-INR 460.34m
Albeit Mumbai City FC have the financial might, the RPSG-Sanjiv Goenka Group-led ATK Mohun Bagan FC can be touted as the most valuable squad in the Indian Super League 2020-21.
The aspirations of the newly-merged entity to win the AFC Cup and play the AFC Champions League on a regular basis have made them break the bank for players like Tiri, Sandesh Jhingan, David Williams, Roy Krishna, Carl McHugh and Javi Hernandez. Their Indian roster comprising Prabir Das, Manvir Singh (transfer fee involved), Michael Soosairaj (transfer fee involved), Subhasish Bose and Pritam Kotal also have big salaries. The arrival of SBOTOP as a principle sponsor is a further testament to ATK Mohun Bagan’s financial might.
3. SC East Bengal- INR 452.01m
The arrivals of Anthony Pilkington, Jacques Maghoma, Danny Fox and Matti Steinmann has the value of newcomers SC East Bengal already pegged at a sizable amount. The arrival of Scott Neville on loan from Brisbane Roar has somehow allowed the team to be within the salary cap. With so many new players in the team, the Red and Golds will now be gunning for glory in their debut ISL season. East Bengal have undergone a complete revamp, right from their owners to the manager. Shree Cement now acquires a whopping 76 per cent of the team’s shares, while TYKA Sports have been roped in as new kit sponsors. Established 100 years ago, the East Bengal club also comes in with a rich legacy and a fierce fanbase and it won’t be a surprise if it goes on to become the most valuable team in ISL.
4. Mumbai City FC – INR 443.68m
The takeover by the City Football Group — a holding company that also has Premier League club Manchester City under its wing — was bound to take Mumbai City FC’s value to the top among the ISL teams. With fresh capital, the team has done smart work in filing some major holes. The arrival of Hugo Boumous (for INR 1.8 crore), Mourtada Fall, Hernan Santana and even Bartholomew Ogbeche bodes well. Not to forget their high-end sponsors like ETIHAD Airways, DafaNews, CISCO and Puma which put them fourth in the list of the most valuable clubs in ISL.
5. Bengaluru FC – INR 437.43m
One of the most popular teams in the ISL, Bengaluru FC has one of the heftiest salary caps as their roster boasts Indian football talisman Sunil Chhetri, Udanta Singh and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. Their foreign roster for ISL 2020-21season includes Cleiton Silva and Kristian Opseth. Meanwhile, JSW Group, through JSW Sport, returns as the club’s principal sponsor, and Puma will continue to be their partner this season as well. Bengaluru FC also have one of the most vocal fanbases in the ISL called the West Block Blues.
6. Odisha FC – INR 410.35m
Odisha FC, who finished sixth in the 2019-20 ISL season, have roped in high profile names like Manuel Onwu, Marcelinho and Steven Taylor ahead of the new campaign. It remains to be seen if they live up to their potential or not. Odisha FC decided to go full traditional for their kits for the 2020-21 season. Designed by T10 Sports, the kit pays homage to the cultural essence of the people and celebrates the Khaanti (pure) Odia spirit.
7. Chennaiyin FC – INR 383.27m
Two-time champions Chennaiyin FC have managed to hold on their Indian contingent, but at the same time, have brought in experienced foreign campaigners in Fatkhullo Fatkhuloev, Jakub Sylvestr, Enes Sipovic and Esmael Goncalves to bring much-needed stability in the squad. All that, coupled with losing a few of their members from ISL 2019-20, means they now have one of the best wage bills for the 2020-21 season. Their standing as double ISL champions also puts them in good stead.
8. NorthEast United FC – INR 379.11m
The arrival of Idrissa Sylla, Luis Machado, Benjamin Lambot and Khassa Camara remains NorthEast United FC’s only big business and are considered as one of the dark horses of the ISL. The John Abraham-owned team’s shirts will continue to be manufactured by Performax for the 2020-21 season and Federal Bank will also continue their association with the club, meaning that the team has a sizeable backing in terms of finances.
9. FC Goa – INR 368.69m
Co-owned by Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli, FC Goa lost a few of their important players but managed to fill the void by bringing in five new foreign recruits for ISL 2020-21. The biggest signing is the 27-year-old Australian centre-back James Donachie. The others in the list include Alberto Noguera, Ivan Gonzalez, Igor Angulo and Jorge Ortiz.
10. Hyderabad FC – INR 366.61m
Hyderabad FC have lost Marcelinho to Odisha FC, which has taken their team’s value down. The arrival of Joao Victor and Joel Chianese, however, remain their best business so far, while the loan signing of Aridane Santana keeps them in line for a decent push after finishing last in the previous season. Hyderabad FC are on their way to rekindle a lost legacy, and the arrival of Telugu actor Rana Daggubati in the board is certainly a step in the right direction.
11. Jamshedpur FC – INR 343.70m
Acquisitions of Alex, Nicholas Fitzgerald and Stephen Eze remain Jamshedpur FC’s only big transfer business so far. Jamshedpur FC have a lot to prove this season after winning just four of their 18 matches in ISL 2019-20. Meanwhile, Tata Steel’s presence on the shirt, which is manufactured by Nivia since 2017, and the backing of a group as large as them make Jamshedpur FC financially steady.