East Bengal’s Debabrata Sarkar: I-League clubs are the backbone of Indian football

The East Bengal official believes the Indian FA need to take calculative decisions on the I-League after consulting the clubs...
East Bengal official Debabrata Sarkar has lashed out at the All India Football Fedration (AIFF) for taking decisions arbitrarily and not consulting clubs before doing so.

"The Federation and its commercial partner (IMG-Reliance) are doing things arbitrarily, without taking the I-League clubs into confidence. The I-League clubs are the backbone of Indian football. How can one take a decision without consulting the clubs?" declared Sarkar to The Times Of India.

His comments refer to and throw light on the continued opposition by the I-Leagues clubs against the AIFF’s commercial and marketing partner, IMG-Reliance, hosting their own IPL style tournament next year. The clubs concern is that this tournament will debilitate the I-League and have asked for a commitment from the authorities to continue their sustenance.

The AIFF also faced vehement strictures against its decision to change the formats of the country’s most important football competition – the I-League  - from the traditional home and away pattern to the zonal format.

The AIFF has since backtracked and will confirm going back to the home and away format after its next Executive Committee meeting.

"If I-League is played zonewise, who'll suffer the most? Only the clubs' sponsors. The federation is considering cost-cutting in hosting tournaments. But do they realize how is it going to affect us, the clubs?" inquired Sarkar.

East Bengal are in the process of implementing the first of a kind amenities and facilities for any football club at its home ground, like an elevator for the elderly and physically challenged along with a state-of-the-art gym and two dressing rooms.    

"We immediately need a sports policy and the federation must approach the government for funds to help the game survive here. Football is dying in states which don't have I-League clubs. Owing to financial crunch, every club is struggling to run its team. Unless the federation shows us a roadmap for generation of money, dark days are ahead for Indian football," said Sarkar who believes clubs are less adept financially to set up their own infrastructure.

"Indian football needs a dhamaka like the franchise-based league. We are not against new ideas but the I-League clubs have to be involved. Let the IMG-R earmark a certain amount of money and distribute it among the clubs for development purposes. Unless the clubs develop themselves, Indian football will go nowhere," he reckoned.