With Shah Rukh Khan already throwing his weight behind the upcoming IPL-style football league by expressing his wish to own a Kolkata-based team, Indian cricket captain MS Dhoni and his close friend andBollywood hunk John Abraham may soon join the bandwagon.
Sources said that both Dhoni and John may team up to buy a franchise in the football league — proposed by IMG-Reliance, the marketing and commercial partner of AIFF.
“John has already made his expression of interest to invest in the league and also plans to involve Dhoni in the venture.”
The lead actor of Madras Cafe, which is currently being screened across the country, visited the league’s preparatory camp along with former Indian football captain Baichung Bhutia recently and had apparently said that he would invest into a franchise “(only) if he can afford it”.
Sources indicated that John had also mentioned how “fitness, bikes and football are in his DNA”. It was also revealed that John had a talk with Dhoni to this effect. Dhoni is a football lover too. The duo is also promoting the game on Indian television through ad campaigns.
With eight cities in line to join the league, sources said that even Indian Premier League’s Delhi franchise owners GMR is also interested. “The GMR group is open to the idea and would commit after evaluating the proposals,” another source said.
A consortium from Kerala is also eyeing investment in the league.
Meanwhile, IMG-Reliance are in talks with broadcasters and sponsors to make this multi-million dollar league a hit. The franchise documents are ready and the organizers are working out the cost price of the franchises.
The league is slated between January 18 and March 30, 2014. The auction for the teams will be held in September. The tournament will feature 22 players in each team, with 10 foreign players, including a marquee player.
Each franchise will also include eight domestic players and four local players from the catchment area in the under-23 category. The marquee player pool would be about 12-15 players.