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The owners of the 12 I-League clubs are set to meet in the national capital tomorrow with United Sikkim’s Bhaichung Bhutia too being part of the group…

Ahead of the crucial meeting with the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and their commercial and marketing partners, IMG-Reliance on Thursday, the owners of the I-League clubs are to convene at the national capital to review the ‘progress’ made since they last met in Mumbai, back in March, and decide their plan of action.

However the club owners wouldn't be present for the dialogue with the Indian FA on the following day but would have a representative each to put forth their thoughts.

On August 23, the AIFF and IMG-Reliance are expected to share their plans on several key issues including the future of the national league. IMG-Reliance’s mooted idea to have a two month long promotional tournament with eight franchisees across the country hasn’t struck the right chords with the I-League clubs, who according to the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) Club Licensing criterion are the major stakeholders in the national league, something which has merely remained on paper in India given that the league rights were sold without the consultation of the clubs back in 2010 by the AIFF.

Will this finally be the "way forward" for the I-League?

IMG-Reliance had given their word to come up with a structured “way forward” plan on April 20 which never materialized and understandably has left the I-League clubs red-faced. Add to this, Jefferson Slack, IMG's senior vice-president, global business development, had stated that he would head the football project in India however, according to sources close to Goal.com, it has been reliably learnt that he will not be attending the meeting on Thursday which only highlights the messy situation.

The I-League Professional Football Clubs Association (IPFCA), which was formed back in March this year, are set to meet on Wednesday to discuss their strategy to be outlined by the club owners. Interestingly Shillong Lajong owner Larsing Ming, who is also part of the four member committee of the AIFF who are in talks with IMG-Reliance over the two month proposed tournament, is also expected to be a part of the IPFCA and so would Bhaichung Bhutia, the co-owner of United Sikkim FC and the most recognized face of Indian football globally.

Pune FC co-owner Nandan Piramal to attend the Aug 22 meeting

It is learnt that the clubs are to strongly voice their angst given that there has been no official communication, either from the AIFF or IMG-Reliance, on as to why the April 20 deadline was missed. There also has been a suggestion that the clubs would not allow their players to be part of IMG-Reliance’s proposed tournament which would leave their plans in doldrums.

The clubs’ plan of action will be based upon the IPFCA objectives.

Promote and safeguard the common interests of the clubs

  • Popularize the I-League across India
  • Help make the I-League sustainable and profitable
  • Encourage the formation of new professional clubs
  • Share best practices among member clubs
  • Get the I-League teams to play in the Asian Champions League
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