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The chairman of Dempo SC spoke on the ongoing debate on the proposed IPL-style football league mooted by the Indian FA’s marketing and commercial partners...

Shrinivas Dempo stated that the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) plan to bring in two new franchisees in the form of Mumbai Tigers and Jindal Steel Works (JSW) shall give a fair idea on how Indian football is valued.

At a time when the I-League clubs do not have any viable sources of revenue generation, Dempo welcomed the investment made into the sport under AIFF’s latest initiative.

“We still don’t see a revenue model for clubs because of the situation that is there. I am not blaming only one party or the other. Today football has been unable to attract the kind of investment that has to come in. The AIFF’s plan to introduce two teams at a higher value. With this we will get some sense as to what investment the new teams will make. That will give a fair idea on how Indian football is valued,” Dempo told Goal.

The five time league champions were in talks with Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan for investing into the club. However the deal didn’t see the light of the day and Dempo mentioned of a “perceptible” difference between the two parties as one of the primary reasons for the same.

The SRK connection that did not happen

“It (The introduction of two clubs into the I-League) gives an indication as to where your clubs stand today. When we go, or when I went to speak to potential sponsors and ask that they give their name on my T-shirt. People ask as to what is the exposure that you get. Once we get big names, we shall know that ‘Yes, this game is worth so much’.

“We could build a team and then look for the right valuation. There is a perceptible difference as we think from the perspective that we spend. But what is in it for an investor. It’s very difficult to etch out that value when we see the television coverage and audience. When you get larger groups coming in, it shows the level of confidence in the market,” he elaborated.

The AIFF vice-president believes that a lot of work needs to be done in order to make the national league a marketable property as it doesn’t have a sponsor ever since ONGC last invested.

“We have to make the I-League more vibrant in terms of more marketing. Today you don’t even know if we have a sponsor for the I-League. This has to change and will happen if you can justify people a return on investment. Otherwise nobody is going to come and sponsor the I-League. It’s all an egg and chicken situation,” he reasoned.

"...whatever IMG-Reliance has been talking about (IPL style league) to invoke interest and probably if done in the right manner, it could add excitement to football. What it means to I-League clubs, that we need to see..."

Dempo agreed that a change of some sort is needed in the present set-up in order to catch the attention of the masses and bring about a sea of change in the way people view Indian football. He also agreed that AIFF’s marketing and commercial partners, IMG-Reliance’s attempt to generate an interest in the local football scenario through their new initiative isn’t a bad concept.

“From that perspective whatever IMG-Reliance has been talking about (IPL style league) to invoke interest and probably if done in the right manner, it could add excitement to football. What it means to I-League clubs that we need to see. But conceptually it is a good idea because there is a lack of interest in Indian football. There is a lot of interest in European football. So we need to strike a balance between the two to invoke that interest in Indian football.”


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