The I-League players who chose to turn their attentions to the newly proposed IMG-Reliance league, promoted by the marketing and commercial partners of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), seem to be slipping through all sorts of trouble as they have recently discovered that the auction for the players that was supposed to happen later this month has now been postponed.
Speaking on terms of anonymity an experienced player elucidated to The Times of India, “We are not playing, yes. It remains a concern for us. They have been taking care of us in a very professional manner, but the truth is that the I-League has started without us and as players, that would understandably be a cause for worry.”
The I-League clubs have resolutely stood by their dictum of refusing to let IMG-Reliance contracted players into their club personnel structure and ensure they play no part whatsoever in their I-League campaigns.
The players remain hopeful of their participation in the tournament, in spite of the fact that the wrangling over that particular contentious issue between the I-League clubs and the Indian FA has left them isolated in a heated battle. The clubs in their part have issued statements of note stating the AIFF and their marketing partners had no interest in settling the matter through deliberation.
The band of exiled players constitute in all sixty two personnel, of which twenty-six are Pailan players (who saw their participation in the tournament come about as their club was disbanded by the AIFF). The group have missed out not only their I-League campaigns this year, but also on state league participation.
What is particularly gut-wrenching is the fact that an elite Indian talent development programme founded on the recommendations of then coach Bob Houghton and which consisted of another twenty six young guns whom the laurel of “the future of Indian football” rests, have also been drafted into the IMG-Reliance tourney. This means they too have been stuck in a quandary despite the AIFF taking pains to offer them on loan to several I-League clubs.
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