I-League clubs pitch for 4-year relegation freeze - report

This plea by clubs across the country is yet another attempt to help revive the sagging state of Indian football....

Just after the All India Football Federation (AIFF) announced that the new franchisee based clubs that were to enter the I-League next season would be free from relegation for three years, existing clubs in the I-League want a share of that pie too when they suggested that the league should be relegation free for atleast 4 seasons.

India coach Wim Koevermans, technical director Rob Baan, AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das and I-League CEO Sunando Dhar held meetings with I-League clubs at Mumbai, Pune and Goa. Similar meetings are being planned at Kolkata for clubs from the East and Northeast region.

“The AIFF told us to spend a minimum of 25 percent of our budget on youth development starting next season. We gave them an even simpler solution to build Indian football from scratch,” a club owner told Times of India on Sunday.

A suggestion from Sporting Clube de Goa president Peter Vaz, which was unanimously backed by other clubs, was to do away with relegation for the next four years and give the clubs sufficient time to build their own teams.

“This is a good opportunity to introspect. If the AIFF can give new (corporate) clubs a three-year safety net (from relegation), they can do the same with existing clubs as well,” explained Vaz who feels clubs tend to spend exorbitant amounts on foreign players in a bid to win the I-League or save themselves from relegation.

Mohun Bagan striker Odafa Okolie was cited as an example of this. The Nigerian earns close to Rs 2.5 crore annually but would earn only close to Rs 70 lakh if he chooses to play outside India.

Dempo coach-cum-secretary Armando Colaco revealed that Kushal Das, who was one of those who backed Vaz’s suggestion, asked the clubs to submit an official proposal which would be taken up in the I-League core committee and AIFF Executive Committee.

Goan clubs were categorically against an AIFF proposal to restrict the number of I-League teams emanating from Goa to five in order to give the league a more pan-Indian feel. The owners of teams from Goa claimed that it would be pointless to stunt the growth of other teams in football-frenzy areas.

Club officials in turn suggested that a stronger second division would be the best possible solution.

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