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EPL lends a hand to promote new Indian league.

Mumbai: The upcoming Indian Super League (ISL) football tournament, in a bid to market themselves better, has signed a strategic partnership with English Premier League (EPL). The franchise-based glamorous league is set to kick off in September 2014,

The Co-operation Agreement between EPL and ISL (co-promoted by IMG-Reliance, joint venture between IMG and Reliance Industries, Star India and supported by All India Football Federation) will allow the latter to boost its expertise in promoting and developing high quality environment for the growth of football in India.

Speaking exclusively with Gulf News over the phone from London IMG's headquarters, Jefferson Slack, senior vice-president, Global Football Development, said: "English Premier League is the most watched continuous annual global sporting event in the world. Their governance capabilities and experience will help us put up a strong structure in place."

Slack also went on to reveal that the EPL has strong fundamentals in place and it will help the ISL clubs get all the support, advice and assistance. "Management is a key area. The clubs' commercial elements are also important. How can one strike a balance and move forward in developing the popularity of the sport, are the aspects on which EPL's guidance will be sought," informed Slack.

The EPL will be playing a key role in assisting with the competition management, referee development and training, stadium operations and backstage preparations.

Slack went on to reveal that EPL's interest in being a part of ISL has a lot to do with their fan base in India. "The English Premier League is very popular in India and they have a huge fan following. The Star TV has been a long-term partner as EPL broadcaster and they also have a good relationship with Reliance Industries. They were more than happy to be a part of this venture."

India's popular Indian Premier League T20 cricket tournament, is handled by IMG's cricketing arm, has been repeatedly marred by controversies. However, Slack brushed aside that it had anything to do with ISL's decision to get EPL on board. "It wouldn't be right for me to comment on IPL. This move has nothing to do with it and all we are looking here is to get the best possible help from EPL to develop ISL and football. We feel football can take the place behind cricket in popularity," opined Slack.

EPL will also assist in defining the anti-corruption and anti-doping policies for the ISL and will be involved in the joint promotion of ISL and EPL football in India. They will also encourage exchange programmes and partnership building between clubs in the two countries. The two Leagues will also cross-promote football coverage on Star India's platform to the growing Indian fan base.

Richard Scudamore, Chief Executive of the EPL, said in a media release: "Having signed a mutual co-operation agreement with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) earlier this year, we are very pleased to also enter into this partnership with the ISL. This will see both organisations work together and share knowledge in several key areas.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Jun 23, 2014
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