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The AIFF gave its approval to a window at the start of 2014 for a tournament on the lines of the popular Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament in India...

In what may seem as a major step towards popularising the Beautiful Game in the country, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has given its blessing to a three month window at the start of 2014 for a franchisee based football tournament which draws inspiration from the popular Indian Premier League (IPL), an annual cricket competition held once every year. The tournament would be hosted by AIFF partners IMG-Reliance."

"Yes, it will be like that only," I-League CEO Sunando Dhar said when asked if the tournament will be franchise-based like the IPL cricket tournament.

The decision to open a window for the tournament was taken at the AIFF's executive committee meeting on Tuesday.

"The committee besides approving the calendar for 2013/14 also granted a window for a new tournament to be hosted by IMG-Reliance during the period," the AIFF said in a statement.

Only last year AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das had admitted that there were plans of conducting a franchisee based tournament to boost the popularity of a game that is nearing extinction in the country.

However, such a tournament will have its drawbacks if held at the start of 2014. The tournament, if held, would coincide with the AFC Cup and the AFC Challenge Cup. If India do manage to qualify for the AFC Challenge Cup to be held at Maldives, then the national team would require all of its players to be be focussed solely on that tournament rather than the AIFF's competition.

Similarly, the AFC Cup which commences in February will see many of the I-League's players preferring to contest the continental level tournament rather than play in the AIFF's corporate league.

Though it may seem that such an initiative by the Indian FA is a welcome move, it will have to be scheduled in a more planned manner to ensure maximum availability of the I-League's star players to allow the tournament to be a grand success.

Some of the other decisions that were taken during the AIFF Executive Meeting are as follows.

  • Besides, the Committee decided to bid for two new clubs in the 2013/14 edition of the I-League.
  • The International Friendly against Palestine on February 6 will be played in Cochin. The match was earlier scheduled to be played in Guwahati but had to be shifted out due to inappropriate ground condition.
  • It was also decided to form a task-force for future interaction with IMG-Reliance on re-structuring of the I-League, development of properties and other issues as per the contract.
  • The U-20 I-League would be held in Jamshedpur at the facilities of the Tata Football Academy in association with the Jharkhand Football Association.
  • The 2nd division I-League would be held in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
  • The U-20 I-League will kick-off in the first week of March while the 2nd Division League will start after the Santosh Trophy gets over.
  • Furthermore, Mr. A. R. Khaleel was made the Chairman of the I-League Committee. He takes over from Mr. Sajjan Jindal with immediate effect.

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