The I-League 2014-15 season could see at least a couple of new corporate teams with the likes of Tata Group, Nethaji SC and Unilazer Ventures expressing an initial interest.
Jamshedpur could be one of the new venues in the I-League should Tata Steel who have been running the Tata Football Academy (TFA) since 1987 choose to kick-start their venture in the I-League.
Rohit Ramesh, son of Ramesh Rangarajan, Director of Kasturi & Sons Ltd., publishers of The Hindu, brought Nethaji SC in Chennai could be amongst the interested parties along with Unilazer Ventures owned by Ronnie Screwala.
“There are corporates who are really looking at Indian football. Of course, there is the ISL (Indian Super League) and there is a lot of interest. But there are also corporate who think that if they cannot fit into the ISL, maybe they come into the I-League.
“A perfect fit would be the Tata's for example. They have been in football for a long time. I think they realize that it is the time to have a corporate team. They have reasonable infrastructure in Jamshedpur which they can upgrade easily. Jamshedpur has had international games in the past. They have shown some interest and Jamshedpur is a new place (venue for the I-League),” informed Kushal Das, the general secretary of the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
Rohit Ramesh who recently referred the I-League as the ‘English Premier League of India’ had mentioned of his interest in the nation’s top division league.
“So our major perspective is to change Indian football. Especially in Tamil Nadu, as there is no team from here in the I-league. And football is growing and I think we are ‘in’ at the right time,” he was quoted saying in The Hindu.
Das mentioned that availability of the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai could be a major hindrance to a new I-League club coming from the southern city.
“Hopefully Chennai could be a possibility. Only thing if availability of the stadium could be an issue. If that can be worked then Chennai could be a possible venue. The Hindu Group is also is discussion stage. There could be some serious interest from Tata's,” he mentioned.
Unilazer Ventures have also thrown their hat in the fray and reportedly have held discussions with the AIFF over the possibility of starting an I-League team.
“They have also said they would like to look at it. I don’t know from which city they would want to come from but they said that they would like to discuss further.”