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The official explained in an exclusive column in The Times Of India on plans to give the sagging I-League a shot in the arm.

When Air India and ONGC FC were expelled from the I-League next season, it was a show of strength from the All India Football Federation (AIFF) as they attempted to make the I-League more commercially and financially viable.

In an all-important meeting in January it was decided that coporate entities would be given the chance to invest in or create their own football teams to bring some much needed life in a league that is not turning many heads around the country.

AIFF Vice-President Subrata Dutta revealed the federation's plans for such franchisees in an exclusive column for The Times of India.

Dutta explained that a minimum of two new teams would be drafted into the I-League roster next year. These teams would be afforded the opportunity to compete for the Asian Football Championship and also would be free from the spectre of relegation for three full seasons.

By means of an Open House Session in Delhi today, potential investors would be allowed to express their opinions before finalizing a proposal for formal invitation of bids. The AIFF man said that another such session is to be held in a fortnight in Dubai for the purpose of any international bidders.

The league roster will be expanded to 14 or 16 sides with the arrival of new teams. Dutta said that the emphasis is to find new teams from the North and South of India as the existing I-League has a sizeable number of clubs from the Eastern and Western parts of the country.


                                            Cost analysis is imperative for success

"Success is ensured when cost analysis of an ongoing project is done on a regular basis. Such a calculation revealed the possibility and need to curb expenditure incurred during teams travel in various zones. The existing concept of home and away matches should remain but the league should be divided into two conference - East and West," wrote Subrata in his column.

Dutta told that each of the conferences would throw up three of four teams who would battle it out in a play-off phase with teams from the other conference while those who did not make the play-off phase will seek to avoid relegation. The federation official said that this move was being pondered over to cut down on travel expenses.

"The new teams will be expected to invest sufficiently for the development of infrastructure which will benefit the nation in the long run in terms of hosting international tournaments. Clubs with professional outlook are expected to encourage existing teams to reorient themselves to corporate culture and get the impetus to develop rapidly. With all these developments, I expect the I-League to turn into an interesting affair," concluded Dutta.

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