AIFF Approves IMG-Reliance League; I-League Players Skeptical Over New Proposal
The All India Football Federation on Thursday gave its go-ahead to the Indian Premier League-style league with its exec committee "agreeing to the holding of the tournament by its commerical partners IMG-Reliance early next year," according to the PTI. AIFF President Praful Patel said, "IMG-R gave a detailed presentation about the proposed tournament and we feel it will be the I-League which will sustain Indian football but this short league will be a booster dose for Indian football. ... I-League and this tournament will go hand-in-hand." Patel said that "the league will have players from across the world" with plenty of experience in int'l tournaments. Patel: "They have made the presentation that they will sign marquee who have played in the World Cup and major international tournament. It will be a combination of Indian and international players" (PTI, 8/1). GOAL's Ayush Srivastava wrote Patel said that "all fears of the I-League clubs and players will be allayed." Patel: "Today IMG-R presented us the blueprint for the tournament. I think all the issues which are being discussed will be solved amicably." In its presentation, "IMG-Reliance shared their new tournament's objectives, structure and implementation." Furthermore, details of the franchise auction, including guidelines, obligations and building process "were shared with the Committee." IMG-Reliance "also gave an update on the players they plan to sign, venue booking for the tournament and of stadium refurbishment." Patel admitted that there are a few issues like the I-League clubs refusing to release players and the timing of the new tournament, but he hoped that "such things would be sorted out from the next season" (GOAL, 8/1). IANS reported a top official of IMG-R said that "they have already signed 36 players and talks are on with a few others as well" (IANS, 8/1). The PTI reported India skipper Sunil Chhetri said that the national footballers were "sceptical" about the proposed IPL-style league because of the ongoing rift between the I-League clubs and AIFF's marketing and commercial partners, IMG-Reliance. Chhetri: "A lot of players have spoken to me, they are very sceptical about the development. They feel scared." If the new IMG-Reliance league becomes a hit with the fans, "clubs feel it will affect the already floundering I-League." The IPL-style league is an ambitious project, but Chhetri said that "it was not only about money for the players, rather it was working under a good coach and playing for a good team." Chhetri: "It is not about money. Everybody has cars, everybody has money" (PTI, 8/1).