Praful Patel: We cannot stop the I-League to accommodate the ISL

The Indian FA president explained as to why the proposed league of their commercial partners had to be delayed for the second time…

IMG-Reliance, the commercial and marketing partners of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), stated that the Indian Super League (ISL), their flagship tournament has been postponed as they couldn’t get the stadium in Goa due to Lusofonia Games and the scheduling conflict with the I-League. As Goal had reported earlier, this is the second occasion when the proposed tournament has been deferred.

It must be noted that the Lusofonia Games had been postponed from November this year to January 2014 at least over a month back. Also with regards to the scheduling of the I-League, countless meetings had been held in the presence of IMG-Reliance representatives, however the AIFF remained defiant that they have to oblige to the request of their partners, as opposed to the opposition raised by the I-League clubs given that the ISL had cramped their schedule.

"We can't have two leagues of the same kind within a gap of six months. That is not practical. I made the point very clear in the meeting that we can't stop the I-League to accommodate the ISL,” Praful Patel, the AIFF president, told The Times of India.

“So we need a fixed time for the event and we want it to happen at the start of every season. So we have come to a resolution that the ISL will happen from September to November and then we'll start the I-League so that it carries on uninterrupted," he added.

Patel claimed that while the above mentioned drawbacks were pointed out earlier, things only became far more apparent when push came to the shove.

"See, when you get down to basics, things become clearer and certain details crop up that can't be overlooked. You know how difficult it is to set up a team and get the infrastructure in place. Setting up a team takes a lot of time,” he explained.

It was only a week after IMG-Reliance and Star India had announced the launch of ISL and how it would aid in India’s dream of qualifying for the 2026 World Cup, that they realized that the time frame to execute their plans was too short.

"They (Star India) also felt that the time is too short to start the project properly. They need more time to get things organized." 

"It is better that we have decided to push it back for six months so that it can be launched in a proper and correct manner. We want to showcase it as a global event but we also don't want to tinker with our league. So it is the best decision under the current circumstances,” said Patel.

Churchill Brothers CEO Valanka Alemao sent a letter to the AIFF president claiming that the ISL isn’t in accordance to FIFA and AFC rules and regulations, to which Patel said, “I do not want to comment on such petty matters. We have given sanction to the ISL and that’s enough.”

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