AIFF shreds proposed conference model for the I-League, Push ahead with Coaching reform

The Indian FA have shelved the conference model and have brought about changes in the coaching criterion for the I-League...

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) decided to dump the conference model that the Emergency Committee had decided to implement in the I-League. The retraction of this decision came in the face of heated and united resistance by I-League clubs. They have decided to return to the age-old Home and Away match model.

The Indian FA claimed that they had little option but to change the format as that would save them around 30% from the budget last term.

"The conference model is out. We are back with the home-and-away format for I-League", a club official told The Times of India. The more traditional home and away format however, is still subject to ratification by an AIFF executive committee.

A major bone of contention had arisen when the federation had initially asked the clubs to shoulder some of the travel burden. However, after much deliberation, a compromise has been arrived to regarding the exact amount of travel subsidies allotted to each club, a source close to the developments disclosed.

Meanwhile in other quarters, the AIFF looks to press on and implement a rule which would not allow a coach or a technical director without Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) ‘A’ coaching license to sit in the dugout during an I-League match. The Federation’s decision had been imparted to clubs on Wednesday and is likely to be implemented from the 2014-15 season.

This comes as a big blow to coaches like Subhash Bhowmick, Sukhwinder Singh, Subrata Bhattacharya and Bimal Ghosh, who don’t have an A-licence and had been forced to take up positions of Technical Directors as the AIFF made it compulsory for I-league clubs to appoint A-licence coaches.

Although Bhowmick led Churchill Brothers to the League just last season, the AIFF refused to acknowledge him as the best coach of the tournament, citing the rules did not apply to technical directors.

Bhowmick had also previously led East Bengal to two National Football League titles.

Subrata Bhattacharya was quoted in The Telegraph saying, “With this decision, the AIFF is not harming the career of coaches like us, but the sport itself. Soccer fans are aware of our success story as coaches. People must be laughing at federation’s decision”.

Almost ironically it was Sukhwinder Singh who the AIFF had chosen to coach its Calcutta based development side, Pailan Arrows. He had previously led the Indian National Team to a win over the UAE in a world cup qualifier. He then quit due to differences with the management midway through last season and has now been recruited by Churchill Brothers for the new season.

Bimal Ghosh,who had also been in demand since quitting Air India is now in charge of the reins at Mumbai Tigers, a new I-league team.

“The number of A-license coaches is not more than 50. The clubs find it difficult to appoint a suitable coach with proven track records,” said a senior coach enlightened on the subject, to The Telegraph. Out of 24 Coaches who took the A-license examination, only seven cleared. This year too, 24 coaches  took the exam with the results being awaited.

Another stumbling block is that the course has turned out to be more expensive with coaches now required to shell out more for basic lodgings and food.

A senior AIFF official said that they would monitor the situation regarding appointment of coaches without A-licences in the future. “There are suggestions from our technical department that federation should keep an eye on who actually is in charge of coaching in a club. Otherwise what it the point of holding coaching degree courses throughout the year,” said the official to The Telegraph.