Indian Super League: A megastructure with a weak foundation
by Shubham Sharma
The latest events unfolding is an alarm of impending troubles.
Have you ever heard of a skyscraper being built to last for 5 or 6 years? I bet not.
No, of course we aren't talking about buildings and structures. But for anything that can be a called a project- whether it is a mini or a mega one, the priority never changes - the foundation. Be it a megastructure, or a deep pocket football league.
The Indian Super League unfortunately presents to us an example of a megastructure with a weak foundation. A league that came with a pious intention of promoting and developing football in India in 2014, but without a proper long term vision to settle.
For the starters, it was anyway a project that was based on a wrong concept- the idea of having an Indian Premier League (IPL) style of football league.
It was a blunder that could have been easily avoided by the All India Football Federation (AIFF), but they probably chose to ignore, to oblige to the wishes of a conglomerate whom the cash-strapped Federation viewed as a saviour.
The ISL chose all the short term visions to create a bubble that inflated a lot- celebrities' glamour, fame of the ageing football stars, top notch quality of broadcasting to catch eyeballs all worked well to bring audience to stadia in gigantic numbers that put India in competition with European elite leagues.
But once the league had to be panned out over a season calendar and turned into a proper football league, the bubble finally burst.
All that helped the sheen of the league faded away, and now it seems the most important factor that keeps the league above it's older domestic counterpart- the huge budgets of the franchises, is slowly fading away too.
Which is why this year two clubs: Delhi Dynamos and FC Pune City were forced to move out of their home bases and relocate to new cities, after continuous seasons of poor attendances at their respective bases.
Delhi Dynamos has relocated themselves to Bhubaneswar and have rechristened itself as Odisha FC while FC Pune City has moved to Hyderabad and rebranded itself as Hyderabad FC.
The struggle of the franchises to keep themselves afloat is a sad state of affairs for Indian football, but more than that, it is a major embarrassment for the AIFF and Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL), who brought up the league to promote football. Two clubs have already given up and unfortunately, there could be more to join this list.
The ever-dwindling figures of most of the Indian Super League franchises is a clear indication of the fact that the league isn't really being able to keep up with the expectations of the fans.
And this exactly proves that money can bring people to the stadium, not fans.
The stakeholders of the Indian football must now step up and act quickly before it is too late. The weekday matches, the forced high foreign players influx and many such ill-practices must be curbed to save the league. It is time to repair the foundation before the entire structure demolishes, which might leave Indian football in a state which may take years to restore.