The Indian Super League has taken football by storm in India ever since its inception in 2014. There was a time in India, where a youngster could not dream of making a career in franchise/club football, but ISL has given them wings, and has helped them to realise that they can earn good money by plying their trade in the beautiful game.
The ISL is gradually becoming bigger every year. The competition, which started with eight teams, has taken two new teams (Jamshedpur FC and Bengaluru FC) in its wings for the fourth edition. It establishes ISL's success in the last couple of years.
Teams are also roping in quality players, both from India and abroad, resulting in some wonderful competition. In terms of salaries, there has definitely been some surge in the money, which has been shelved out by clubs.
Anas Edathodika and Eugeneson Lyngdoh, who were signed by Jamshedpur FC and ATK, were the highest gainers of ISL 2017 Players draft, with a deal of Rs 1.10 crore each.
For instance, the ISL 2014 draft witnessed teams spend Rs 24 crores on players, and in 2017, the figure spent has been doubled. The ISL 2017 saw Rs 48.25 crores being splurged on players, and these are promising signs for Indian football. One also has to take into account Rs 11.55 crores, which the clubs had spent in order to retain some players from last season.
If we compare the money, which was spent in ISL 2014 and ISL 2017 on players, the difference is alarming. Atletico de Kolkata, which has now been renamed as ATK, spent the most (Rs 3.91 crores) among the eight teams on domestic players draft in 2014 while Mumbai FC was second at Rs 3.76 crores.
These figures stand next to nothing when one looks at ISL 2017. Bengaluru FC, who are one of the new teams in ISL 2017, spent lavishly splurging Rs 6.01 crores. Kerala Blassters spent 5.93 as well. NorthEast United FC spent the least amount of money, Rs 3.66 crores.
A look at total spend by all teams in ISL 2017 so far
|Clubs||Indian players, including retained||Total Spend (in cr)|
|FC Pune City||16||3.63|
No wonder, the ISL is said to be one of the steady growing football leagues in the world. However, one has to understand the success of the competition cannot be attributed to the power spending, there is more to it. The fans are the backbone of any sporting event or a club, and full house stadiums for many a matches just establishes the growth of football in India.
In all this, overall it seems, India football is the best winner. With Indian footballers getting more exposure, standard of football has improved in India. They have recently broken into FIFA top 100 rankings, and are currently placed at 96. India have definitely come a long way as they were ranked 173rd in March 2015, and now top 100.
ISL can definitely take some credit.