Mumbai to host IPL-style football league opener

Mumbai: Mumbai will host the opening match of the inaugural IPL-style football league that kick starts on January 18, 2014.

"The IMG-Reliance tournament starts from January 18 and would run till March 30, and the first match will be played in Mumbai," an informed source said on Monday.

The bidding for the eight franchises to take part in the tournament will be held next month, while the players` auction - including the foreign players - would be held in October.

Pune, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Kochi, Goa, Delhi and Bangalore will be the eight cities where the franchises would be based, while Guwahati and Hyderabad have been kept in the reserves.

"All the franchises would be registered as clubs and the corporates who buy the team will be owners for 10 years," the source said.

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, the source informed.

The games would be played like in a normal match, over 90 minutes. The four teams that finish on top, will go to the semi-final stage, just as it happens in IPL.

IMG-Reliance, which is the marketing partner of the All India Football Federation, has already signed 39 domestic players and 20 players of AIFF developmental side Pailan Arrows will also be part of the league.

"The international players would be signed up for four months and it would be a mix of players who are free agents, recently retired and those who are coming on transfer or loan," the source added.