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She let loose at the Indian FA for shoddy treatment meted out the to I-League clubs over the proposed implementation of the new league

Valanka Alemao, firebrand CEO of the I-League club Churchill Brothers, who won the league last season, has hit out ferociously at the All India Football Federations’ (AIFF) incommunicado and blames them for veiling their operations with their commercial partners, IMG-Reliance.

“The AIFF President, Praful Patel, had announced on August 1st that there would be a meeting next week (August 4-10) with the I-League clubs where it would be explained how the new proposed league would benefit (everyone) associated with Indian football. However one week has already past and another week will soon be over and we are still being kept in the dark, knowing nothing about it,” Alemao told The Herald.

Giving room for the AIFF president for manoeuvre, Valanka professed, “I am not criticising the AIFF or for that matter our AIFF chief, but only pointing out that the commitment has not been kept until now. Maybe he has some good reasons, valid reason or reasons, but what is important is to keep up the word or if there is a change, courtesy demands that one should be informed and also to allay fears that there is no transparency in the working reinforcing the views that everything is highly secretive right from the start. As such one will realise who is creating apprehensions and fears and it is no good to say that there is a scuffle between IMG-Reliance and the clubs.”  

She revealed that Patel had proposed to have a clear-the-air meeting with the commercial partners of the Indian FA, IMG-Reliance, where he and six others officials viz. Subrata Dutta, Larsing Ming, Shrinivas Dempo, K Mather, Kushal Das and Sunando Dhar would bear witness to their plans of promoting the I-League.

Grieving the abeyance in communication between the I-League club owners and Indian Football’s governing body Valanka summed up, “The suspense gets worse with each passing day.”

She stressed the importance of freeway communication between the authorities concerned with the development of Indian football, club owners and stakeholders, regardless of the commercial powerhouses that board the sponsorship bandwagon, while also ensuring the clubs are never left out of the progress map.

“It is very sad that the IMG-R tournament plan is not coming out into the open. One understands that representatives from IMG-R who attended the AIFF meeting on August 1st in New Delhi, had made a presentation about the newly proposed IMG-R tournament which is scheduled to kick-off in January 2014. The marketing partners of the AIFF presented a detailed progress plan on the tournament as part one of the agenda of the meeting.”

“One is told that in its presentation, IMG-Reliance shared its new tournaments objectives, structures and implementation. The details of the franchise auction including guidelines, obligations and building process were also shared with the committee. IMG-Reliance, one understands, also gave an update on the players signed, venue bookings for the tournament and also their plans on stadium refurbishment. Why are all these not shared with the public, the football fans and the clubs at large? What’s the big secrecy. Is it incorrect or illegal or irrelevant to seek relevant and pertinent answers?,” framed Alemao.

Valanka countered the popular opinion of being anti-AIFF by stressing that all the clubs professed cooperation and not confrontation and were willing to readily solve all issues at the table.

“I have been told that our GFA president and AIFF Vice-President Shrinivas Dempo had raised the concern that there was a perception in the market of the I-League getting step-motherly treatment with the new tournament set to roll. That is as it should be. Kudos to Dempo.”

“However, before anyone could say anything, Praful Patel was quick to state that the I-League was the most important competition in India and would remain so. This is the refrain now going on for so many years. So, naturally, the clubs need to know what exactly is being done in that direction. But again there is absolute silence. The success of any management is communication, but for the past 13 days, the channels are paralysed or so it seems,” stated Valanka, who’s problems seem to be stemming from AIFF’s incognito operandi.

She also pointed out that the IMG-Reliance organizers had conveyed to the AIFF Executive Committee a detailed promotional plan for the forthcoming season of the I-League which could be shared with the clubs. The lacuna surrounding the distribution of this particular statement to the concerned participants was also perplexing.

“If someone thinks or unfairly labels that one is not pro-AIFF, it does not necessarily mean that one is anti-AIFF, for there is the third side (of the coin) which is independent and neutral,” decreed the Churchill CEO.

“The AIFF Executive Committee had also asked the shareholders including the I-League clubs and IMG-Reliance to discuss matters pertaining to players loaning for the new tournament. The obvious question is when and how,” concluded Alemao.


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