Fabio Cannavaro gets maximum bidders in IPL style soccer

Fabio Cannavaro
Italy's 2006 World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro got the maximum bid after being sold to Siliguri franchise, as a galaxy of world footballers and coaches went under the hammer on Monday for the Premier League Soccer (PLS) to be held next month.

The former Italian defender who retired last year following a serious knee problem was sold to the Siliguri franchise for USD 830,000, while attacking French midfielder Robert Pires too was bid intensely by five teams before being gone to Howrah for USD 800,000.

Former Argentina and Chelsea midfielder Hernan Crespo, who once held the world record in transfer fee, was expectedly the top draw in the auction with the highest base price of USD 840,000 but the former Lazio star had no bidders as Barasat clinched the deal.

Crespo's lawyer Gianluca Chibbaro, who was present at the auction, said the Argentine star was looking forward to play in PLS.

"He is very excited to come to India and play. We all are too much excited. This is going to be hugely successful," said Chibbaro.

The remaining two franchises, Kolkata and Durgapur, zeroed in on former English and Liverpool star Robbie Fowler (USD 530,000) and Jay-Jay Okocha (USD 550,000) respectively.

Okocha went unsold as Durgapur had to settle for the Nigerian midfielder.

The auction began with the bidding of English football manager Peter Reid, with a base price of USD 175,000, generated much of interest before being sold to Kolkata for USD 200,000.

Nigerian Samson Siasia, who was the first to go under the hammer, along with Icelandic Teitur Thordarson were the biggest beneficiaries after being sold to Durgapur and Barasat for USD 210,000 each.

There was no taker for iconic Bolivian Marco Etcheverry as Siliguri settled for the former Aucas and Oriente Petrolero manager.

Earlier team Barasat, which had a base price of Rs 80 lakh, was sold for a whopping Rs 25.15 crore to Uro Infra Reality India Ltd who became the costliest of the six franchises.

The next-costliest franchise was Siliguri (Aajay Consultants for Rs 18 crore), followed by Kolkata (Camelia Group for Rs 11.5 crore). Durgapur (Tulip Infonet for Rs 7.6 crore) and Howrah (Syncsys Infotech for Rs 9 crore) were the other franchises sold out for 10-year contracts.

Haldia found no taker with a base tag of Rs 70 lakh. But the organisers maintained that they were in talks with two parties who would be unveiled soon.

A rip-off from the hugely successful and money-spinning Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket, PLS is a brainchild of Celebrity Management Group who along with state football association IFA are organising the tournament in an attempt to cash in on the football frenzy in the state. CMG executive director Bhaswar Goswami termed this a historical event in India's football history.

"The response was fabulous considering that everybody was newcomer to such an idea. It will be a worldclass event. Exciting times lie ahead of us. We just witnessed history in Indian football," Goswami said.

CMG have sold global TV rights to international sports media company MP & Silva who have acquired the global broadcast rights for the first season of this franchise-based tournament and will beam the event in 50 countries, he said adding, "We are in talks with Indian telecast rights."

In the first edition, PLS will have six franchises -- Kolkata, Howrah, Barasat, Durgapur, Midnapore and Haldia -- with one icon player, one icon coach, two overseas players and one overseas player of Asian origin for which the auction was held today.

The rest in the squad will be Indians with six U-21, six 'catchment' (local) players and nine to 14 top Indian players.

There will be another auction to decide on the nine to 14 top Indian players in the first week of February.

"We all, including the franchise owners and the IFA, will hold a meeting on February 2 to decide on the Indian players' auction."

How the teams stack up: (All prices in USD):

Team Kolkata: Coach: Peter Reid (200,000); Icon: Robbie Fowler (530,000); Overseas: Robert Egbeto (350,000), Daniel Varela (120,000); Asian: Park Ji-Seung (140,000).

Team Howrah: Coach: Fernando Couto (240,000); Icon: Robert Pires (800,000); Overseas: Jose Gabriel Rios (180,000) and Diego Madrigal (120,000); Asian: Byun Yoon Chui (115,000).

Team Siliguri: Coach: Marco Etcheverry (200,000); Icon: Fabio Cannavaro (830,000); Overseas: Santino Quaranta (180,000) and Limberg Gutierrez (180,000); Asian: Hwang Gyu Hwan (90,000).

Team Durgapur: Coach: Samson Sia Sia (210,000); Icon: Jay Jay Okocha (550,000); Jose Carlos Castillo (80,000) and Alonso Solis (200,000); Asian: Kim Bong Kyeom (150,000).

Team Barasat: Teitur Thordarson (210,000); Icon: Hernan Crespo (840,000); Overseas: Christian Lara (200,000) and Joaquin Botero (180,000); Asian: Park Byoung-Gyu (90,000).

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