The Return of the Jedi with Update on ISL Rules

Jedi Returns with ISL Rules

Jedi Returns with ISL RulesKind of a dream title isn’t it? Who doesn’t want to be a Jedi from Star Wars (non-nerds can go watch Roadies)?

After skipping out on you guys last year without a goodbye or even batting an eyelid, it won’t be a surprise if many of you have jumped ship to other Indian Super League blogs… oh, wait a minute… there aren’t any other blogs on the Indian Super League.

Ahem, still I shall try not to take the uniqueness of ISLBlog for granted. As we all know, in the age of information, it’s not really going to last that long.

It’s a bitch trying to cope with this system of few months of football mayhem and then multiple months of sitting on your arse twiddling your thumbs. In other words, the Indian Super League isn’t very blogger friendly.

After all, what am I supposed to write about in the 9 months when there aren’t any matches? If any one of you wiseasses thought ISL rules and ISL transfers, then I shall very politely tell you to deliver my regards to where the sun doesn’t shine. You would be partly right of course but did you consider the fact that in the past three months there hasn’t been anything interesting happening with regard to the Indian Super League?

That changed recently, however, as the Indian Super League seems to have gone into hyperdrive with news flying in. So, I was compelled back to once again to pontificate, contemplate, evaluate, ponder, deliberate, speculate, and intimate on the happenings in the league. This one will focus on the new rules that the promoters of ISL seemed to have brought out.

A Summary of ISL Rules

  • ISL Salary Cap: There will now be a salary cap folks. So, the psychotic optimists amongst you who were expecting to see Messi or Ronaldo on Indian soil can forget about it. Each team will have to limit their spending towards player wages to less than Rs 20 crore (that’s $3.28 million in case you want to compare it to European leagues).
  • ISL Marquee Players: Every ISL club will be required to have an ISL Marquee Player. The said player can be the one from 2014 (hopes Elano and Hume come back) or a new one brought in by the club with approval from the League.
  • ISL International Players: There are restrictions regarding ISL international players too. ISL clubs are required to have one ISL international player at least with a maximum of 5 allowed. ISL clubs can get these players themselves from the open market.
  • ISL Domestic Players: In terms of ISL domestic players, ISL clubs are required to have at least one domestic player with the quota capped at six. ISL clubs had to take on free agents before the beginning of this month as now the free players will only be available through Domestic Draft.
  • ISL Squad Sizes: ISL clubs must have at least 22 players and at best can contract 25 players. This total consists of one ISL marquee player, up to 10 international players, and 14 domestic players.
  • ISL Auctions: Later on, the Indian Super League will hold a player auction consisting of around 12 to 15 Indian players with each ISL club having the option of adding one player to their squad. These players will be those who have played for the Indian National Team but couldn’t feature in the 2014 season.

What Do the New ISL Rules for Salary Caps Mean for Football in the Country?

ISL Rules salary capLet’s cut the elephant in the room down to size – ISL player salary caps. If you’re an avid football fan, then you’re most probably looking at this new rule askance.

Many of you will say that these salary caps will limit the growth potential of the Indian Super League. Some will say that they want these ISL rules to be modified so that some players can be allowed to be outside the cap.

This is usually called ‘soft cap’ wherein the salary can exceed to a certain extent in special circumstances. ‘Soft cap’ has been used in cases of player retention.

‘Soft cap’ can also be used if the teams are allowed to exceed the salary caps put on them if they’re willing to pay financial penalties for the same. The premise regarding the ‘soft cap’ is pointless because of the following reasons.

  • Soft cap penalties won’t really bother rich teams as they can simply pay the fine and move on.
  • Soft caps where salaries of one or two players are allowed to exceed the cap are pointless because the Indian Super League hasn’t put a salary cap for individual salaries. The salary cap imposed is for the total money that the ISL club spends.

This brings me to the next subject. This being that these ISL rules regarding salary caps will stifle the ISL clubs’ spending power to a point where they won’t be able to attract high profile players. If you do the maths, this premise doesn’t pan out. Here’s why.

  • Rs 20 crore converts to about $3.28 million.
  • Our league only runs for approximately 3 months which is 12 weeks.
  • Suppose, we take out about $1.25 million for a marquee player or two.
  • If you convert $1.25 million into weekly wages, as is the norm in football, you get approximately $104,000. Do you think that’s not enough to attract high profile players that are on the verge of retirement?

Let me put this amount in perspective for you by picking out highest earners and high profile albeit aged players who are on the verge of retirement.

  • The biggest earners at Chelsea are Cesc Fabregas (ungrateful bugger) and Diego Costa (Stamp crazy goal scoring extraordinaire) at $300,000 per week salaries. These are players at the peak of their careers aged 27 and 25 respectively. Oldest player on Chelsea’s books is Didier Drogba who earns around $119,000. Would you like to see Drogba in Indian Super League?
  • The highest paid player at Manchester City is Sergio Aguero (26) at $327,000 per week. Bacary Sagna (31) earns $119,000. Is Sagna not good enough for the Indian Super League?
  • Top earner at Manchester United is Wayne Rooney (28) who earns $445,000 per week. Michael Carrick (33) gets paid $119,000 too. Wouldn’t our strikers benefit from Carrick’s passing?
  • The highest earners at Arsenal are Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanches earning $208,000 per week. The oldest players playing for the Gunners are Tomas Rosicky (33), Mikael Arteta (32), and Mathieu Flamini (30) earning $126,000, $119,000, and $97,000 respectively. Do you want to tell me that these guys won’t improve the quality of the Indian Super League?
  • At Real Madrid, Ronaldo (29) receives about $427,000 every week after tax. At the same team is Alvaro Arbeloa (31) who receives $97,000 per week. Wouldn’t Arbeloa light up this league if Bernard Mendy could?
  • Messi (27) gets $380,000 per week at Barcelona. Barcelona also has Sergio Busquets (26) at $99,000 per week. Can’t Busquets teach Indian defensive midfielders a thing or two?
  • At Bayern Munich, we have Arjen Robben (29) and Franck Ribery (30) earning $245,000. Bayern also have Claudio Pizarro on their books at $119,000 per week. Pizarro has already been linked with joining the Indian Super League.

I rest my case. The salary caps ISL rules won’t affect the quality of Indian Super League!

I’ll go one step ahead actually. The salary cap ISL rules will help the popularity of football in India. Why? Let me explain. If one team was to get ahead of all others because of their money, it wouldn’t matter how many stars they bring in because it would make the league imbalanced. At best, what this ISL club would manage to do is make football popular in its region and not others. Now, we don’t want that do we? Because we already have that situation in West Bengal and it does nothing for football in the country.

My Views on Other ISL Rules

I’m ok with all the other ISL rules listed above and particularly appreciative of the ISL rules for domestic auctions. Most of the rules are run of the mill and will only help the growth of football in the country along with improvement in standards of local players.

What I like about the ISL rules for domestic auctions is that they’re picking players who’ve played for the country but not in the Indian Super League. Think about that for a second. This means that the international players who didn’t get a chance in 2014 because their I-League clubs were being pricks will now get a chance. I, for one, am looking forward to what these guys can do especially after seeing Romeo last time out.