How do ISL Clubs Make Money?

Ever wondered how Indian Super League (ISL) clubs make their money? This article unveils the juiciest Indian Super League revenue sources fueling these teams.

Unlike established leagues in Europe, the ISL operates with a unique financial model. Let’s check out the different ways ISL clubs make money and the problems they face in keeping their cash flow steady.

Indian Super League Revenue Source

Broadcasting Revenue

You know how the ISL works, right? It’s not like other leagues where each team sells their own broadcasting rights. Nah, in the ISL, there’s this central pool system. 

So, the league organizers, Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL), they sell the broadcasting rights for all the domestic competitions like the Super Cup, Durand Cup, and the ISL itself to companies like Star Sports, Sony, and Sports18.

For example, Viacom18 paid a whopping 550 crores to FSDL just to get the rights to broadcast the ISL for the next 2 years! Crazy, right?

Now, here’s the interesting part. FSDL splits that broadcasting money in half. One-half gets distributed equally among all the teams in the league. The other half is based on how well each team performs.

This way of splitting the money helps new teams in the league get a good amount. But it also limits how much the really popular clubs with tons of fans can make from being so popular.

Prize Money 

The FSDL also a fixed amount of money to the teams based on their performance. The Winners of the Indian Super League receive ₹6 crore and the runners-up receive ₹2.5 crore.

Franchise Fees: A Hefty Price Tag

Listen up, to even get a spot in the ISL, these franchises gotta pay a massive fee to FSDL. And we’re talking big bucks here, not pocket change.

This entry fee has been changing every year, but it’s always a crazy high amount. Just imagine, a brand new team has to cough up a ton of money before they’ve even kicked a ball! No wonder they’re under immense pressure to start making profits quickly.

The struggle is real – some franchises couldn’t handle the financial heat and had to pack their bags and move cities. Others just shut down completely because the money troubles became too much.

Trying to join India’s top football league is no joke. Those FSDL guys demand a fortune upfront. You better have deep pockets and a solid game plan to survive in the Indian Super League.

Sponsorship Deals

Sponsorships are a huge money-maker for ISL clubs. Those jersey sponsors, stadium naming deals, and partnerships with different brands? That’s where the real cash comes from.

But wait, there’s more! Even the ISL league itself has sponsors. And a portion of that sponsorship money gets split evenly between all the clubs. Sweet deal, right?

Now, here’s the catch – getting those fat sponsorship cheques depends on how popular your club is. The bigger the brand value, the more fans you have, and of course, how well your team performs on the field. Established clubs with a solid reputation tend to score the biggest sponsorship deals.

Matchday Revenue: Tickets, Merchandise, and More

Ticket sales are decent money for ISL clubs, but let’s be real – it ain’t anywhere close to what the big European leagues are raking in. Still, every bit counts, right?

But here’s the thing – how much money a club makes from tickets depends on stuff like stadium size and how they price those tickets. Bigger stadiums mean more seats to sell, while smarter pricing can either pack the stands or leave them empty.

Then you’ve got merchandise sales – jerseys, scarves, all that fan gear. It’s another way for clubs to cash in, but this area is still pretty small in India compared to other countries.

Now, you know who’s killing it with tickets and merch? Kerala Blasters! Their massive stadium and crazy passionate fans mean they’re the top earners in this department.

But even then, we’re talking peanuts compared to Premier League sides. An average PL club pockets between €120 – €180 million a year just from matchday revenue! Meanwhile, the highest an ISL team makes is around €3 – €4 million. Insane difference, eh?

Player Transfers:

You know how clubs in other leagues make banks by selling their star players? Well, ISL teams can do that too – especially when it comes to young Indian talents or those experienced foreign dudes.

But here’s the catch – since the ISL wants to develop Indian football, there’s a cap on how many foreigners each club can have. So unlike those crazy European transfers, ISL sides can’t really demand massive fees when offloading their foreign stars.

Of course, while selling players brings in the moolah, clubs also gotta spend big bucks to get new talent in the first place. It’s all about finding that sweet balance of spending smart and making enough from sales to keep the finances healthy.

No club wants to be stuck with a bloated squad of highly-paid players they can’t shift. But at the same time, you need quality on the pitch to attract those lucrative sponsorship deals and keep the fans coming. Quite the tightrope to walk for ISL owners!

Challenges and Considerations

Even with all these money-making channels, staying financially fit is still a huge challenge for most ISL clubs. Let’s break it down:

  • High Operational Costs: Running a pro club ain’t cheap! Player salaries, staff wages, maintaining training grounds and stadiums – these costs add up real quick.
  • Developing Fan Culture: Sure, the ISL has a loyal fanbase, but it’s still growing compared to leagues that have been around for ages. Getting more fans engaged and pumped is key for boosting those ticket and merch sales.
  • Infrastructure Development: Speaking of stadiums, many in India lack the fancy facilities and perks you see in Europe. No AC, basic seating – that kind of stuff can honestly make for a pretty average matchday experience. And an unhappy fan isn’t dropping cash on tickets or jerseys, right?

Keeping an ISL club running smoothly is one tough job. High expenses, developing the fan culture, upgrading stadiums – club owners have their work cut out for them!

The Road to Financial Sustainability

As the ISL keeps growing, clubs have a few smart strategies to help them stay financially fit:

  • Focus on Youth Development: Setting up top-notch academies and nurturing young Indian talent is key. Not only can these kids become future stars, but clubs can also make serious cash by selling them to bigger teams down the line.
  • Building a Strong Brand: Developing a strong brand identity that really clicks with fans is crucial for landing those fat sponsorship deals and keeping fans hooked for life.
  • Community Engagement: Reaching out to nearby communities and creating a real bond with fans breeds loyalty like no other. Loyal fans = more tickets sold and merch flying off the shelves.
  • Infrastructure Upgrade: Upgrade those stadiums! Investing in modern stadiums with all the cool facilities and perks can massively improve the fan experience. Happy fans don’t mind paying more for tickets and stuff like food and drinks inside.

The key for ISL clubs? Think long-term, focus on youth, branding, community, and providing a top-notch matchday experience. Do that right, and the money will follow!


What is the net worth of Indian Super League?

The Overall market value of Indian Super League clubs as of 1st March 2024 is ₹432 Cr. 

What is the revenue of Indian Super League?

The ISL is making a lot more money now compared to a few years ago. From the 2014-2015 season to the 2019-2020 season, the total money earned by the league went up by 108% from INR 172.43 cr to INR 358.82 cr. That’s more than double!

However, the most money the league ever made was actually in the 2018-2019 season. That year, the total earnings were even higher at 385.22 crores. 

Who owns Indian Super League?

The ISL is run by a company called Football Sports Development Ltd (FSDL). It’s supported by the All India Football Federation (AIFF), which is the main governing body for football in India.

The ISL is owned by two big companies. Reliance Industries Ltd owns 65% of it, and Disney Star owns the other 35%.


The Indian Super League’s revenue sources are pretty unique. Sharing that central revenue helps new teams, but clubs need other income streams like sponsorships, merch sales, and smart player transfers to survive long-term.

Building an epic brand that fans love and investing in top facilities is key too. As the league grows, finding that balance between on-field success and financial stability will determine which clubs really thrive.

It’s a tough but exciting challenge for ISL clubs – make the right money moves while also evolving to stay ahead of the game. 

PS, Check out our article on how FSDL is exploring a new revenue model to make ISL Clubs profitable. 

What do you think?

Written by TackleFromBehind

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