According to media reports, in the post COVID-19b scenario, A League salary cap is expected to drop by up to 30 per cent next season following a fall in broadcasting revenue after chief broadcaster Fox Sports cancelled its contract during the coronavirus shutdown, before striking a reportedly cheaper deal.
This has in effect made the cash-rich ISL, which previously attracted only fading stars, a more attractive proposition for Australia-based players as proved by the numbers this season.
If just two Australians played in ISL last year, there are as many as 10 players among the expanded 11-team league when the competition got under way in a bio-secure bubble in Goa last week.
ISL 2020-21: Football takes centre stage in new normal India
One of the players to head to India is Australian defender Dylan Fox, 26, who left the Central Coast Mariners in September to join Northeast United FC.
“With all the uncertainty around the League at the moment, it was a good opportunity to head overseas and test myself in Asia,” Fox told AFP news agency.
“The A-League has stagnated in the last couple of years anyway and the other boys probably feel the same.”
Non-Australian A League players have switched to ISL, including English striker Adam Le Fondre – last season’s second highest goal-scorer, with Sydney FC – along with German defender Matti Steinman and Aaron Holloway from Wales.
India’s interest in Australians is also driven by a requirement that each team signs a player from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
“For Indian clubs when looking at AFC nations, there seems to be a preference for A League players,” said agent Baljit Singh Rihal of Inventive Sports, which specialises in the ISL.
“Players from Iran and Uzbekistan are also willing to come to India, but it’s harder for clubs to find information and stats on these players, whereas the A league is open in this regard and has all the records available.
“Indian clubs know what they’re going to get in Australia. It’s a known market,” he added.
(With inputs from Agencies)
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