Retired batting great Sachin Tendulkar will lead a clutch of former cricketers and movie stars in promoting the start of the Indian football league.
Tendulkar and former India captain Sourav Ganguly are among team owners in the Indian Super League, which will have its draft for foreign players in Mumbai on Thursday when 49 big names will be available for eight franchise teams.
Former Arsenal midfielder Fredrik Ljungberg and ex-Newcastle United striker Michael Chopra, who is of Indian origin, will be among the top names featuring in the draft for the October-December tournament.
The tournament schedule has not yet been announced.
A similar process for Indian players was completed last month and the teams are allowed to contract two international players directly and five each from the draft in their squads of 22.
Former India football captain IM Vijayan feels the likes of Tendulkar are not just cosmetic additions but take keen interest.
“I have had discussions with him (Tendulkar),” Vijayan said ahead of the draft. “I’ve been impressed by his knowledge of football, his ideas about the game, and eagerness to know more about it.”
Tendulkar is a co-owner along with business group PVP ventures while Ganguly co-owns the Kolkata team as part of a consortium that also includes Spanish league team Atletico Madrid.
Bollywood actors Salman Khan, Ranbir Kapoor and John Abraham are among the other co-owners of teams in Pune, Mumbai and Shillong, respectively.
The Super League is an additional tournament after a national I-League tournament run by the AIFF which features several foreign players but no big names.