IMG Reliance Soccer Deal In India Has Been Moving Slow After 17 Months
The All India Football Federation's 15-year deal with IMG Reliance "seemed like a marketing coup that would change the game," but 17 months after the deal was announced, there "seems to be many a slip between potential and performance," according to Dhiman Sarkar of the HINDUSTAN TIMES. The US$126M deal promised to "radically restructure, overhaul, improve, popularise and promote” soccer throughout India, from the grassroots to the professional level. With the All India Football Federation ending the last fiscal year at least US$800,000 in the red and its marketing partner having "done little to fulfill its promise, ennui seems to have replaced excitement." The marketing partners are "yet to get a title sponsor for any AIFF tournament," including the top level I-League. The AIFF has "forwarded three suggestions to revamp the I-League and cut costs but don't know how and if they have been taken forward." Sarkar wrote IMG Reliance also "missed the April 20 deadline to inform clubs about the changes they planned to ramp up Indian football." I-League club Pune FC Head of Operations Chirag Tanna said that all clubs "are likely to meet by the second week of June to decide on their next step." AIFF Senior VP Subrata Dutta said, "Because this is a 15-year deal, the gestation period too is a little long. I am sure before the next season starts, IMG Reliance will have a lot of things to say about how they want to take Indian football forward. Banking on the reputation of Reliance Industries and IMG, we sold the rights because thought nobody would be able to market football better. And as they are also our strategic partners, we are waiting for them to add value to our suggestions" (HINDUSTAN TIMES, 6/4).