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The I-League is set to welcome new teams from next season in an attempt to attract viewers towards the domestic competition...

It has been learnt that atleast 25 corporate entities have registered themselves for the Open House Meeting of the All India Football Association (AIFF) that is to be held in Football House in New Delhi today.

The meeting is to help draft in new teams for the I-League next season on account of Air India and ONGC FC being cast out for non-compliance to Asian Football Confederation (AFC)'s Licensing Criterion.

Interested franchisees will have the floor to discuss suggestions before finalizing on the Request For Proposal (RFP) for a formal invitation of bids. The winning bidders will be allowed to own and operate an I-League club during the 2013 season onwards and also would be eligible to compete for places in the Asian Football Championship. This in addition to being free from the fear of relegation for three years will allow these clubs to get accustomed with their new surroundings.

Sources of The Times of India and The Telegraph revealed that entities like Dodsal, Venky's, Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL & FS) Limited, Jindal Steel Works (JSW) and Daulataram Shivcharan Das Khandelwal (DSK) Group are part of the delegation for today's meeting.


Venky's are one of the interested parties to own an I-League club


An AIFF official revealed that companies from Kochi, Bangalore and Chennai are keen on having an I-League team of their own in addition to sports marketing companies from Delhi and Kolkata.

This move to turn to corporate franchisees for help stems down to the dwindling popularity of the I-League in the country.

"Since our marketing partners still have all the marketing and broadcasting rights, the sharing of revenue in the I-League could prove to be key factor in convincing corporate houses to start new teams," said a senior official to The Telegraph.

However these new teams will have to invest heavily in infrastructure and youth development keeping the long-term interests of the country's football scenario in mind.

"We will enumerate in detail what we want from the parties and what they can provide. We hope to have a detailed discussion on the roadmap for the future," said I-League CEO Sunando Dhar to The Times of India.

Dhar also explained that AIFF Technical Director Rob Baan's Lakshya-2022 plan will serve as a guideline for these new clubs. The AIFF official also revealed that a similar session is being planned to be held in Dubai in a fortnight to attract international bidders.

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