Indian Super League, in the last couple of years, has grown exponentially not only in popularity but also in the kind of talent it is fielding. In many ways, it has already eclipsed I-League – India’s second-most popular football league, to become a fan-crazy sporting tournament, much like the Indian Premier League.
Whether it is drawing international talent or following a model inspired by the English Premier League, ISL has got it all and then some more. But the buck does not stop there – teams have gone the extra mile to sign partnership deals with top European clubs to train and develop their players and technical abilities. These multiple agreements are assisting in the development of football at grassroots levels, giving the local talent a chance to grow, thrive, and improve their skills.
Mentioned below are a few such agreements:
Hyderabad FC – Borussia Dortmund
Hyderabad FC are among the newest entrants in the Indian Super League after SC East Bengal. Right before the ISL 2020-21, the club entered a two-year deal with the German giants Borussia Dortmund. The deal will see BVB assist Hyderabad FC in developing and nurturing young players, in addition to exchanging technical information and technological prowess to help the teams grow. Fan engagement, coaching assessment, and youth programmes are a few components of this deal.
Another key aspect of the deal is to increase the brand value for the Nizams by taking cues from the Dortmund side.
In many ways, this deal – directly or indirectly – is starting to bear rewards for the Hyderabad side. Following a dismal finish in the ISL last season, the team, this time around, is absolutely killing it. They find themselves in strong contention for the playoffs and also lead the way with entertaining, goalscoring matches.
FC Goa – RB Leipzig
FC Goa have signed a very similar strategic deal with the Bundesliga side RB Leipzig. This partnership of mutual cooperation will see youth training camps, coupled with online classes. Once the international borders open fully, coaches from the RB Leipzig Academy will fly to India while FC Goa will send its staff and youth players to Leipzig to learn and train with the help of advanced facilities. It is a mutually beneficial deal as RB Leipzig gets to expand its global footprint and Goa benefits from the German side’s expertise.
RB Leipzig was founded in 2009 but in just 10 years, they have fought their way to the top flight of German football and made a name for themselves.
Mumbai City – City Group
Among the strongest partnerships that we have seen here is that of Mumbai City with the City Football Group – the giants behind the former English Premier League Champions Manchester City.
City Football Group acquired a majority stake in Mumbai City, which means this is not just a partnership agreement, but CFG have an actual say in how the team is to be run, the players, and everything else. This acquisition came right before the start of the Indian Super League, and its timing could not be more fortuitous.
Mumbai City FC made a series of blazing trades, including getting Sergio Lobera as the manager and signing the top players like Adam Le Fondre, Bartholomew Ogbeche, and Hugo Boumous. The result of this is also quite evident – Mumbai City lead the ISL table comfortably at the top and look primed to reach the playoffs.
Bengaluru FC – Rangers
Last but not least, we have Bengaluru FC who have signed a technical and commercial agreement with the Scottish side Rangers FC. In addition to youth programmes and exchange of technical information – pretty much in line with the deals we have seen above, the agreement will also include streaming of selected Rangers FC matches front Scotland’s top-flight football league in India on Star Sports/Disney Hotstar.
Interestingly enough, this is one partnership that seems to have backfired, considering the abysmal run of BFC in the ongoing Indian Super League.