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The Fifa general secretary voiced his concern that the new proposed two-month promotional tournament mustn’t overarch the I-League’s importance…

The I-League Professional Football Clubs Association (IPFCA) will be a relieved lot given that Jerome Valcke, the FIFA general secretary, mentioned that the I-League has to be the main national competition for the clubs.

As part of IMG-Reliance’s ‘Vision 2026’ plan, they are keen on kick starting a two-month promotional tournament wherein franchisees would be sold with several international football stars being signed on as marquee players in an IPL-style extravanganza hoping to make the sport pan-India and also help recover the money they are investing in Indian football given that they believe that the I-League isn’t a commercially viable product for them as of today.

In a meeting held last month, the I-League clubs were vehement in their stand against the proposed tournament and mentioned that they wouldn’t let their players or coaching staff be a part of this new fledging competition. The reason being that the I-League would be relegated to being a ‘B’ product with the new tournament grabbling all the eyeballs and sponsorship revenue from the private sector.

“I-League as it is today is not perfect. It should be more representative encompassing all the regions. For that to happen, the All India Football Federation (AIFF), IMG and Reliance will have to work together,” Valcke said in his media address at the Roundtable discussion organized by International Football Arena (IFA) at Delhi.

“That’s why we signed an agreement with the AIFF to extend help in to improve the state of affairs,” he said.

He further gave his stamp of approval on the two-month promotional tournament provided it doesn’t hinder the interests of the I-League per say.

“It is the I-League which would be the club championship for India and there cannot be any other league besides this. 

 “But we have no issues if there is any other tournament run by the AIFF, which helps in raising the profile of the game without reducing the importance of the I-League,” he said. 

Valcke also mentioned that the I-League clubs are expecting more cooperation from the AIFF.

“I spoke to some of the clubs here and they are looking for more support from the federation. The improvement plan has to start at the grassroots level so that sport can sustain on its own,” said Valcke.