The Goa franchise of the Indian Super League are looking to tie up with a European club, with Manchester City said to be their first preference

After Kolkata tied up with Atletico de Madrid in purchase of the franchise for the Indian Super League (The Kolkata team is owned and operated by Sourav Ganguly, Harshavardhan Neotia, Sanjiv Goenka, Utsav Parekh and Atletico Madrid, who have a 25 per cent share in the franchise), it now seems that the Goa franchise wants to do the same.

Times of India report that Goa are looking to tie up with a European club and have made newly crowned Premier League champions Manchester City their first priority.

A franchise official reported to the Indian newspaper, “It’s important to have foreign tie-ups for the franchisees not that it’s all that easy. There are several ends that need to be tied before we can take anyone on board.

“We are sure that most of the franchisees will have international collaborations. Let’s wait and watch how things unfold on the foreign front,”

Besides Manchester City, the Goa franchise is also looking to have discussions with Portuguese champions Benfica and Scottish champions Celtic.

The Indian Super League will be of a similar patter as the Indian Premier League (Cricket). The football 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. Argentina’s retired marksman Hernan Crespo, former Manchester United forward Dwight Yorke, Louis Saha, ex-Arsenal stars Robert Pires and Fredrik Ljungberg are among the confirmed signings. Peter Schmeichel, Marcel Desailly and Kenny Dalglish are three of the managers who have confirmed as managers.

India already has an ‘I-League’, the football league that runs in the same manner as any other domestic league of the world. But the cricket-obsessed nation has not given mass attention to it and there might be more religious football supporters of European clubs than of Indian clubs. FIFA president Sepp Blatter dubbed the country of 1.2 billion the “sleeping giants” of world football. India presently ranks 145 in world rankings.

The Indian Super League is expected to awaken the ‘sleeping giants’ and make them more equal to their European contemporaries, at least take the first step in the hopes of becoming equal.

With European football clubs, especially ones which achieved recent success like Atletico Madrid, Manchester City and even Benfica and Celtic, reported to be ones which might get involved in the competition, one would hope that this does a lot of good for the nation. In fact, Atletico Madrid want to set up a football academy in Kolkata as they hope that some of the players who train here would end up playing in Spain in the future.

Goa franchise would hope the clubs it is trying to approach would also take similar steps and invest in a partnership that could be symbiotic in the long term.