Nita Ambani’s ISL roadmap includes foreign investment, offshore games

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Nita Ambani has the vision to add wings to the development of India’s premier professional club football competition – Indian Super League. The Reliance Foundation Chairperson has shared her vision to host the ISL games in the Middle East. She has also invited top European clubs for investing in the ISL.

“I think it’s (opportunities) for everyone. When we started the Indian Super League for football in 2014, we attracted international football players and we continue to have five of them in each team. We have a thriving sports goods industry, which exports nearly 60 percent of its produce, so that is another interesting opportunity,” news agency IANs has reported Nita as saying. Until now, ISL matches have only been played in India, but she believes there is potential to go outside the country in order to accelerate growth.

“I do want to take it (the ISL) abroad, at least play one or two football games in the Middle East, in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, and then see how we can expand. We are a young league, just five years into the business, and we’re looking forward to taking Indian football to the world. However, at this moment, my focus is to encourage and promote sports in India,” she is reported as saying.

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The task of exploring these options and increasing the value of the league is set to fall to Martin Bain, formerly of Scottish soccer’s Glasgow Rangers and English lower-league side Sunderland after he was appointed chief executive of the ISL this week.

Under the AFC’s proposed changes to the football structure in India, the ISL champion will now represent India in the AFC Champions League, Asia’s top clubs competition, via the play-off round.

For the development of the players in the league, Ambani is keen for top European clubs to partner with ISL teams through technical and strategic partnerships.

“We have had technical tie-ups so far, but I really hope that I can get some of the great football teams from around the world to come and experience the India opportunity and partner with Indian teams. I’d love to have the English Premier League teams come and invest in India,” said Mrs Ambani.

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