Praful Patel, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) president, allayed the fears of the clubs of the I-League soon going the Santosh Trophy way should the new league by IMG-Reliance comes into existence as it would overshadow the country’s top division.
At the Executive Committee meeting held on Thursday at the AIFF, Patel asked their commercial and marketing partners to rope in a title sponsor before the I-League 2013-14 kicks-off.
“Patel told IMG-Reliance that whatever money comes goes to them and that India cannot have its premier competition without a sponsor. He mentioned that the AIFF wants a corporate associating themselves with the I-League,” informed a senior official of the federation to Goal on the condition of anonymity.
With the scuffle between IMG-Reliance and the clubs out in the open, Patel asked for a meeting to be held next week wherein the marketing plan for the I-League will be shared by IMG-Reliance in the presence of six AIFF officials, namely Subrata Dutta, Larsing Ming, Shrinivas Dempo, K Mather, Kushal Das and Sunando Dhar.
“There will be a meeting with the club where it will be explained how the new league will benefit everyone associated with Indian football. He also added that the national team shouldn’t suffer because of the problem between the clubs and IMG-Reliance,” the source said.
“Dempo raised the concern that there was a perception in the market of the I-League getting step-motherly treatment with the new league set to roll. However before anyone could say anything, Patel was quick to state that the I-League was the most important competition in the country and shall remain so,” the AIFF official revealed.
Patel also hit out the clubs and mentioned that they need to be far more responsible before being critical of the federation and their commercial partners. He added that they weren’t doing enough to promote the sport and raise the value of the I-League as a product with fans not turning up in numbers for the games.
“Patel also said that the clubs need to be taken into confidence for the new league which shall have 61 matches being played in 73 days,” informed another AIFF official.
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