All India Football Federation (AIFF) President Praful Patel unanimously expressed satisfaction over the progress made on the proposed new tournament conceptualized by IMG-Reliance and called for all stakeholders to work together in strengthening Indian Football.
Speaking after AIFF’s commercial partners presented the blueprint for the new tournament to be played between January 18 to March 30 next year in eight Indian cities, Patel said all fears of the I-League clubs and players will be allayed.
"Today IMG-R presented us the blueprint for the tournament. I think all the issues which are being discussed will be solved amicably. The main league in our country will remain the I-League. We have also inducted two new teams in this year's I-League and we will be more vigilant towards the AFC club licensing criteria," said Patel after the executive committee meeting of the AIFF on Thursday.
In its presentation, IMG-Reliance shared their new tournament’s objectives, structure and implementation. Furthermore, details of the Franchise auction including guidelines, obligations and building process were shared with the Committee. IMG-Reliance also gave an update on the players they plan to sign, venue booking for the tournament and of stadium refurbishment.
What has IMG-R planned for the I-League?
Meanwhile, IMG-Reliance also confirmed to the Executive Committee that a detailed promotional plan for the 2013-14 I-League will be communicated to AIFF which can be shared with the clubs.
Patel admitted that there are a few issues like the I-League clubs refusing to release players and the timing of the new tournament, but he hoped that such things would be sorted out from the next season.
"This being the first year there is a little bit of timing issue coming in between the break in the league. But from next year the tournament will be held either before or after the league," said Patel.
Patel said four AIFF vice-presidents -- Subrata Dutta, Shrinivas Dempo, Larsing Ming and K. M. Mather -- have been asked to talk to the I-League clubs and convince them to release players for the tournament. AIFF general secretary Kushal Das and the CEO of the I-League, Sunando Dhar will also be present in the meeting with the clubs.
"There won't be any major conflict. There are some areas of understanding that we haven't arrived at. We have asked our four vice-presidents to talk to the clubs and convince them to release players. In fact, two of our vice-presidents (Ming and Dempo) are club owners. I am sure they will be able to see it from the perspective of both the AIFF and the clubs," he said.
Will the IPFCA still stay firm and united?
The AIFF president said he was well aware of the contribution of the I-League clubs but the federation also has to think of the future of Indian football.
"We are well aware of the contributions of I-League clubs. But we are also looking at a better future for Indian football and we will see that the clubs and IMG-R come to an amicable solution," said Patel.
The AIFF president said the I-League and the proposed tournament will go hand-in-hand in the development of Indian football.
"Our objective is to build Indian football and the short format is like a booster where we bring in people to follow the game. But at the end of the day, if Indian football has to grow and sustain itself it will be with the help of the I-league," said Patel.
Patel also said that IMG-R was talking to some of the marquee international players, who have played in the World Cup, to be part of the tournament.
"IMG-R has informed the executive committee that there are some marquee players and renowned World Cup stars who could play in the League," he concluded.
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