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Background of the Study

What are the governance strategies that can be implanted in the Indian Super League to replicate the results and success of the European Governance in Football?

India is also known as Asian Tiger and has the population of 1.252 billion making it the second largest populated country in the world. It is among one of the significant nation is South Asia. India has a very diverse culture as it has full spectrum of people. The diversity ranges in terms of religions, races, culture and language (Anagnostopoulos and Senaux, 2011). However, the diversity is not very well reflected in the sports that people are engaged in India. Cricket is highly popular among Indians. Football is not that popular as compared to Cricket, however it is very well known in some states of India. Hockey is another sport which is being played there and several others are there such as Snooker and Chess. But these sports don’t hold much significance in India. However there have been increased efforts from governments and other sports corporations to make Football equally popular as Cricket in India.  These initiatives have been under taken, to provide a global platform to the budding Indian players of Football.

Football was introduced by Britisher’s in India during their rule. However they did not allowed Indians to play the game and assigned them the role of fetching the ball back to the player during the game. Calcutta Football Club was established in 1872 (Anagnostopoulos and Senaux, 2011). After this, a lot club came up such as Dalhousie Club, Traders Club and Naval Volunteers Club.

The Indian Football Association was established in Calcutta in 1893; however they did not allowed any Indians on the board until 1930s. This led to only two Indian teams to feature in the league. In 1950, India was invited by FIFA in Brazil to participate in the World Cup, but India had to withdraw its name as the players were required to wear shoes and they have always played barefoot (Ausloos, 2014). They won at the National level later in 1862 by winning two times at the Asian Games. However, Football never caught up like Cricket in India, barring Calcutta, Kerala and Goa.

Football was earlier played in England and the modern rules of the game were formulated in the 19th century. In Europe, Football became popular during The Middle Ages. The professional Football League was established in England (Dentchev, van Balen and Haezendonck, 2014).  The European football League is affiliated to European Federation of American Football. The game is held annually where the best American teams participate in the competition.


The English Premier League has gained popularity in India from the last three four years. This has led to an increase in the overall viewership of Football in the country. EPL fascinated about 155 million Indian viewers in 2013. The first five matches of FIFA World Cup received a viewership of 1300 TVT (Television Viewership in thousands) which is indicative that the viewership of Football is also high in India).

The Indian economy is booming which is why it attracting the attention of big corporations of the international sports market. The boom has led to the increase in disposable income of middle class. Also the increasing awareness about sports other than Cricket has been another reason why they want to invest in India. And after the success of IPL model, IMG-Reliance took a plunge to grab this opportunity and proposed the idea of a global league to the All India Football Federation. This is how the Indian Super League was formed.

Indian Super League was established in 2013, in order to make Football a significant sport in India and to enable India to participate around the word as a football player too. This is a top level professional league in India after I-League (Foley and Smith, 2013) .It features eight teams from all over India.  It followed the same model used for Indian Premium League for Cricket.

The Indian Super League have incorporated its motto its mission and vision statements. They have aligned their objectives as their vision, which is to improve the governance and administration of Football in India. To promote the league, the organizers highlighted the fact the teams were owned by a variety of eminent people in different fields. Some teams were owned by Indian sports players while others were owned by Bollywood actors and other international people (Harrison and Bukstein, 2013).  This can be immensely beneficial for Indian players in the long run. The International coaches were introduced to provide a global level training to the players. The involvement of international managers have brought with them the superior technical expertise and management styles that can push the learning curve upward for the local officials. The inclusion of Iconic players like Thierry Henry and Louis Saha etc have helped INDIAN SUPER LEAGUE  to create a huge amount of publicity for themselves and was able to draw  a large amount of crowd to the matches.

All their efforts were successful as the opening game of INDIAN SUPER LEAGUE at Salt Lake Stadium attracted near about 65,000 supporters of Atletico De Kolkata. The viewership on television for the game was up to 74.7 million views. The rating of the League in the first week was 170.6 million which was very close to the rating of Indian Premier League, which was rated at 184 million (Hay, 2013). It has been suggested that there has been a steep rise among Indian viewers of Football. The attendance of crowd in the ground for INDIAN SUPER LEAGUE matches falls short by 24,357 audiences than Bundesliga. This makes INDIAN SUPER LEAGUE  the second biggest league in terms of audience for matches, then comes the Indian Premier League and then La Liga in terms of viewership. However, the average attendance of leagues in France, Italy, Brazil, Argentina and China are lower than the above numbers.

Research Question

According to Kushal Das, the general secretary of All India Football Federation, INDIAN SUPER LEAGUE has made significant contribution in developing the infrastructure for football in India (Hooghe and Kerhoffs, 2013). This was quite apparent by the large crowd that filled the stadium during matches. The infrastructural development is visible in the emergence of quality footballers like Romeo Fernandez, Sandesh Jhingan and many others who are making a mark. This have benefitted the Indian football

This research will find out the problems faced by the management of Indian Super League. Then the report will further discuss what are the governance practices that are followed by the European League and how its help them to achieve better results.  This report will then discuss in detail that how INDIAN SUPER LEAGUE can implement those strategies to improve the efficiency of the management.

Although, INDIAN SUPER LEAGUE  was successful in its efforts and it was very well accepted by the audiences, the management made it murky by not disclosing how the bidders got the respective franchises of the teams. These raised doubts among many viewers and other I-Leagues clubs and they barred the discharge of their troupe for the IMG-Reliance league without receiving any significant financial return (Jere and Mathidza, 2014).  And there are many more problems that cropped up. All of these problems necessitated the need of adopting good governance practices to replicate the results and success of European Governance in Football. This would help them to be sustainable in the long run. They have already taken the first step by signing a partnership deal with the English Premier League to improve their administration and Governance in 2014.

The research questions for the purpose of this dissertation are listed below:

i) To identify the governance strategy used by the European Football League?

ii) To determine the need for adopting the governance practices of European Football League by the Indian Super League?

iii) How Indian Super League can implement those practices and what they have done till now?

The above research questions have been formulated keeping in mind the initial objective of the project, i.e. to identify what are the government’s strategies that can be implemented by Indian Super League to replicate the results and success of the European Governance in Football (Kasale, Burnett and Hollander, 2004).

The primary objective has been broken down into three specific questions. This will help in providing a better insight about the problem statement.

There are five major objective of this study. They are discussed below:

  • The prime objective of this dissertation is to determine the administration and government practices adopted by the European Football League.

  • And then devise a suitable model that can be implemented by the Indian Super League.

  • The next chief objective of this report is to examine the significance of governance in sports.

  • Then the other important objective of the project is to discuss in detail about the governance practices of major leagues that operates in Europe, like the English Premier League.

  • This research also seeks to discuss the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility in governance.

This report will serve as the extension of previous research on Governance of Football across Europe and Asia. Thus the fact makes this study extremely important. This research will contribute towards gaining in-depth knowledge about the environment of the Football market in India (Kennedy and Kennedy, 2014). This will also help in determining the governance style that will be appropriate for implementation in Indian Super League. This dissertation is also important as it will help to identify the benefits that Indian Super League can derive by adopting best governance practices. This will help Indian Super League to be able to maintain the long term sustainability of the league at the global platform, if they follow various governance tools which are mentioned in this study.

Moreover, this research will also help in understanding the importance of adopting effective governance practices in sports. This project will make significant contribution towards constructing a good governance system for Indian Super League, so that they become more professional in their approach and be able to attract the required attention from eminent people from the world of global sports. Furthermore, this research will help to enhance the transparency in the management, governance system and structure of Indian Super League.

Originally, sports were a self-governing activity. The global organizations for sports regulated their sports autonomously through self regulating networks that followed their own set of policy and regulations. These laws meant that the sports events at this huge level could escape the labor of fiscal law (Kolyperas, Morrow and Sparks, 2015). And they were largely dependent on public services. For example, to ensure the secure atmosphere for sports events, the government has to appoint police officials. From past few years, these events have been commercialized by these organizations at a large scale. They have started using actors for a greater impact and have turned these sports events into an economic activity. This new development has caught the attention of the local and the central government and made the autonomous status of these organizations questionable. Political entities are facing great complexity to get a hold on such sports organizations from a view of ruling them as these organizations are resisting this interference. But since these organizations have started churning money out of these events, there have been many incidents of corruption and bribery which reflects the inefficiency of the governance system of these organizations.

In Europe, FIFA and UEFA have started adopting a protectionist approach for the governance of sports, after the Bosman case (Kristenson et al., 2015). They even claimed that the European Institution should allow them to take independent decisions. European Union could not intervene much in the Football sector because the autonomous status enjoyed by sport’s governing body.

Ever since the end of World War II, Football in Europe has gone through three remarkable phases of regulations. From 1950-1970, the Football competition between different clubs in Europe was organized autonomously by state playing market which was synchronized internationally with UEFA (Lienhard and Preuss, 2014).  After 1970, the era was marked by the monetization of these events by these governing organizations and playing standards declined. In the 1980s, the football underwent into aggressive monetization. There was an increased trend of generating revenue by through television viewership.

In the 1990s, most of the English clubs issued their shares in the stock market to increase their capital, primarily to reconstruct their stadiums. The club who was able to successfully implement this strategy was Manchester United. By 2000s, the European Football clubs tried to adopt similar strategies of going public. There has been a radical revolution in the commercialization of sports. Sports events like Football started generating considerable revenue by attracting a millions of audiences and spectators(Mohammed Alkhaldi and Ahmed Alawamlah, 2013) . There has been a dramatic rise in the sponsoring and merchandising of such events. Increased use of media and with the surge of social media the reach of these games increased.  There are many reasons which fueled the interests in the participation in these sports events in Europe. Few of these factors are adjustments in the lifestyles and influential sporting contest. All this have led to increased attention from general public to participate in such events. This evolution has led to the involvement of the government in these matters to judge whether the sport’s governing bodies are appropriate for public funding or not (Pawlowski and Nalbantis, 2015). Sorenser and Torfing have introduced a model called ‘Democratic anchorage Model’ which can be applied to any governance network to gauge the democratic legitimacy of that particular governance system . This model discusses that how the democratic disposition of the specific governance reaches to the point of democratic anchorage of the system. This means that how the system relates between the democratic measures and the commonly acknowledged ideology of the democratic procedures (Peeters and Szymanski, 2014). This model assesses the four key dimensions that re-ignite the classical themes in the modern theory of democracy that assures a pioneering holistic approach which stand out in the scholarly literature on the topic.  Rowley’s model of centrality and density has been used in a research on football governance which was conducted by Holt. This model limits its focus on the intra-network associations and its functioning. Therefore, this model fails to particularly assess the democratic legitimacy of the network as a whole. The refined version of the Democratic Anchorage Model offers the operational definition of the four dimensions of the model (Picazo-Tadeo and González-Gómez, 2009). This refined version also demonstrates that the assessment criteria are useful for the application of such dimensions on the experimental case study of a governance system that was used in the decisions to build a bridge between Denmark and Germany. This is considered a green signal that the Democratic Anchorage Model can be applied for the governance of the European football. The four dimensions described that the governance systems are anchored to the degree   that they are controlled by the politicians who are democratically selected, who are responsible for facilitating the communication as per the widely accepted democratic grammar of conduct, who are responsible for a territorially definite electorate and which represents the association basis of the participating organization and groups (Pope and Pope, 2014). The model further assumes that none of the anchorage mentioned above can ensure the independent performance of the governance system alone. The model states that these dimensions are inter dependent and balances the loopholes of each other. These dimensions are believed to provide a solid foundation of democratic legitimacy when they are combined together.

CSR is an emerging concept in business which has been now applied to sports too. CSR focuses on the sustainability of the business and this has been an area of public interest in the recent past. Recently, the focus on CSR activities in sports have also started gaining importance as the role of sports is becoming highly prominent in the society due to increased influence of the global sports organizations. And the various high profile breaches in the football sector have led to the heightened demand of accountability and transparency in the governance system of the sports organization (Soroka, 2014). Therefore, there is a pressure on these organizations to implement CSR activities in their governance system and they have involved themselves into many educational and youth health programs.

The CSR initiatives were adopted very slowly by the European Union. At the Lisbon Summit of the European Council which was held in 2000, where prime importance was given to social inclusion and acting responsibly towards the society and sustainable expansion in order to promote  financial growth and enhanced consistency (Sáez Castillo, Rodríguez Avi and Pérez Sánchez, 2013). It was then, when CSR was officially adopted by the European Union.

The European football clubs implements CSR towards three key stakeholders, i.e. community, employees and the environment. There are many researches, that have analyzed the importance of CSR in sports due to increased awareness and integration of CSR into football business foster the competitiveness in the games and creates additional value for its stakeholders (Tyner-Mullings, 2014). There are various models that has been suggested which can be applied by football organizations so that they are able to create political, humanitarian and appropriate value. The strategic management becomes important for football clubs. It has been recommended by many scholars to integrate CSR activities into the management so as to create healthy relationships with the community at large by the football clubs (van der Meer, 2014). FIFA has created a CSR unit to meet these demands by the society. However, the moral integrity of the association and various CSR activities such as ‘Global Programme’ remains doubtful.

Indian Super League needs to implement CSR strategies among its various franchises to have a better impact and benefit for its key stakeholders (Wood, 2013). This will help them to increase the involvement of the public at large which will lead to enhanced popularity and generate more revenue for them.


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