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There may be some good news in store for the clubs as they could see some money flowing in, which shall go a long way in healing the torn relationship between them and the AIFF...

Sunando Dhar, the I-League CEO, has revealed that IMG-Reliance, the commercial and marketing partners of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), are already thinking along the lines of a revenue sharing model with the I-League clubs.

The Indian Professional Football Clubs Association (IPFCA) was formed by the I-League clubs earlier this year in March wherein one of their agendas being to “promote and safeguard the interests of the clubs” which translates to fighting for revenue from the national league to be shared with them. The clubs had made their voice heard to the AIFF and IMG-Reliance in February which saw the latter give April 20 as the date wherein a new plan which shall be in the best interests of all the interested parties would be put forth, something which never really saw the light of the day.

However with IMG-Reliance keen to start an eight team competition for two months in January next year, the AIFF and their partners have been locked in talks on as to how to appease the I-League clubs, who on the face of it, aren’t too pleased with a new competition coming up which could kill the already dwindling interest in the country’s top league.

“IMG-Reliance are in dialogue with their management given that money has to be divided. For starters, the clubs would now have 50% of the money earned from the signage at the stadiums, which today is about 10% or so. This is a huge leap as it will allow the clubs to earn extra money,” Dhar informed Goal.com.

"IMG-Reliance are also contemplating to share a part of the revenue from the broadcast deal and the title sponsor with the I-League clubs

“Secondly they are also contemplating to share a part of the revenue from the broadcast deal and the title sponsor with the I-League clubs,” he added.

Given that IMG-Reliance are approaching the broadcasters and trying to sell Indian football properties as a package instead of standalone, how can one determine the revenue earned for each in order to share a certain percentage with the clubs?

“I’m sure there is a way to judge that and therein comes honesty and trust. There has to be a way to value each of the properties thereafter,” replied Dhar.

So where does the I-League stand?

One of the key areas of contention with the clubs has been the creation of I-League as a separate legal entity, something which shall definitely hurt the interests of the AIFF and IMG-Reliance given that the two bodies have entered into an agreement, back in December 2010, which hands the latter all the commercial and marketing rights on every property that exists or shall come up in Indian football. If I-League becomes a separate entity, it will allow its members, which shall comprise of the clubs primarily, senior members of the I-League body and a few representatives from the Indian FA, to sell their commercial and broadcast rights all over again which, as per the deal between AIFF and IMG-Reliance, has already been sold. And even if they let the rights remain the IMG-Reliance, the fact that the clubs would have a major say in the decision making process would certainly not go down too well with the AIFF Executive Committee.

“In one of the Executive Committee meetings (of the AIFF), the idea of I-League as a separate legal entity was discussed and was rejected given the legal complications it involves

“In one of the Executive Committee meetings (of the AIFF), the idea of I-League as a separate legal entity was discussed and was rejected given the legal complications it involves. It won’t be easy to remove the I-League from the master agreement with IMG-Reliance,” Dhar explained.

However, according to the AFC Club Licensing Criterion, states that it’s imperative for the league to be a separate legal entity.

“The criteria states that the ‘League must be a separate entity governed by its football association ‘which means that it comes under the umbrella of the AIFF,” Dhar reasoned.

“The AFC have recently decided that there won’t be an outright rejection of any club from a competition if their association or league doesn’t meet the criterion. They have assigned certain points to each of the norms and if they aren’t followed, they deduct 30 points or so. And if you look across Asia, except for three nations, namely Japan, Uzbekistan and Qatar, no other nation has yet to meet the entire AFC Club Licensing Criterion,” said Dhar.

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