Jefferson Slack, IMG’s senior vice-president (global business development – football), empathized with the I-League clubs a day after they met the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and their commercial partners to voice out their concerns.
“I don’t think they are wrong in their demands. They are investing a lot of money in Indian football and it was good that they spoke their hearts out. However, one needs to understand that we too are a long way away from making profits,” Slack told DNA, an Indian news daily.
However he suggested that the onus was also on the clubs to make themselves more commercially viable by undertaking various initiatives.
“The clubs need to be proactive in order to generate revenues. But we have met and discussed plenty of things. We will get back to the clubs with the timelines regarding concepts to revamp the structure and profile of the I-League based on which there will be further interactions,” he added.
Jefferson highlighted that Indians are far more attracted to the European leagues than their local version and that poses a challenge for those marketing the I-League.
“You can sit at home and watch Manchester United play Real Madrid...we’ve got to compete with that. And that's the hard reality everywhere around the world. To make the league appealing, we need to improve the playing standard and generate a buzz so that it gets a broadcaster interested. But it all comes down to whether the people are interested. Right now in Indian football, people are not. But things will get better.”
There were suggestions of an MLS-based model to be replicated in India however Jefferson refused to confirm the same.
“We know all kind of different football models all over the world. We will see what the best (option for India) is, discuss it with the AIFF and the clubs and see how it can be taken forward from there,” he concluded.
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