In COVID-19 Shade, a Silver Lining For Indian Football: Aussie League Stars Line Up to Play

Illustration - Kakudmi/Unsplash

Last October, Gary Hooper, the British footballer, became the “best signing” for Wellington Phoenix, a New Zealand club playing in the Australian A-League.

Today, the 32-year-old center-forward is part of the Indian Super League (ISL) team Kerala Blasters FC.

But there is a lot of commercial risks out there at the moment, and players want to know when they will be paid, and they will receive their full salary, said Joel Chianese.

Chianese and Hooper are part of an impressive ensemble, titled by Englishman Adam Le Fondre. Considered a legend of the Sydney FC club, Le Fondre is set to join City Football Group-owned Mumbai City on loan over a proposed salary cut in Sydney with a wealth of Premier League experience.

Previously, Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler was appointed SC East Bengal manager after his forced exit from COVID from Brisbane Roar. Newcastle Jets defender James Donachie has joined Asian Champions League-linked FC Goa on loan. In contrast, midfielder Brad Inman has moved from Brisbane Roar to ATK Mohun Bagan, who will join named Roy Krishna’s best player in the A-League for the 2018- 19 season.

Add to the mix the continuous influx of players who have experience playing in the second and third tier of Spanish football. ISL can boast of having arguably the most stellar foreign roster in a year so that several leagues worldwide are in shock because of the financial crisis.

Mandar Tamhane (General Manager of former ISL champions Bengaluru FC) said:

“In terms of foreign players’ quality, this is the best view of Indian football. When we interact with potential players, they want to come to India maybe because they know and are aware of the quality of the league, and there is a lot of money as well. They are all immeasurable players who have played at a very good level and have done extremely well.”

However, the pandemic is only part of the reasons many players are turning to India. A-League players’ salaries were already slashed due to a reduction in broadcasting costs, which is the biggest source of income for the league and clubs, says Chianese.