UAE-based Indian company to make bid to buy I-League football club

I-League organisers were in Dubai last month to convince expatriate Indians to invest in the fading, cash-strapped game.

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DUBAI // A UAE-based Indian company is among six firms to submit a bid to buy two new clubs in India's top football league - the I-League - in an attempt to give the sport in India a jump-start.
All India Football Federation (AIFF) organisers were in Dubai last month to meet expatriate Indians in an attempt to get them to fund a cash injection into Indian football.
"We had a good meeting with investors in Dubai," said Kushal Das, general secretary of the AIFF. "Six corporates including a UAE company have bought the bid documents. The Dodsal Group is the only UAE company to have bought the bid." The Dubai-based Dodsal Group confirmed it was making a bid, but did not offer details.
Mr Das said there was no starting bid but owners could expect to spend about US$20 million (Dh73.46m) over five years and invest in a football stadium in India to train up-and-coming players.
"They have to submit plans on how the stadium is going to be built. They should be prepared to put in 100 crores [1 billion rupees, Dh67.9m] for it."
The federation also requires bidders to invest in infrastructure and training grounds, youth and grass-roots development.
Potential investors can submit bids until May 15 and an evaluation committee will examine the proposals before awarding contracts, hopefully in time to allow new teams to prepare for the season's start in August.
Missan Computers, one of the UAE companies that attended the meeting last month, will decide this week if an I-League club is a lucrative investment for them.
"We are still studying the market," said Amir Mohammed, the company's chief executive.
"We are businesses and anything that is profitable is of interest to us. We are holding a meeting with shareholders this week. We will take a decision after that."
Mr Mohammed said his company was also considering investing in a new team in the Indian Premier League (IPL), the international Twenty20 cricket competition.
"As of now, there are nine IPL teams and they may look to add another team. We have got sufficient funds to invest in an IPL team."
The IPL, in its fifth season, is one of the world's richest cricket leagues and has a massive fan following in the cricket-crazy nation.
Although football has always enjoyed a strong following in India, it is plagued by declining standards, poor facilities and investment, and is overshadowed by cricket.
The AIFF hopes new investors will help to change the situation. The I-League was founded in 2006 by the federation after the decline of the National Football League. The AIFF has plans to introduce up to four new football clubs.
* An earlier version of this article said the Dodsal group had submitted bid documents when in fact the firm had bought the bid documents and will be making a bid.