Shrinivas Dempo: The future of Indian football looks bleak if clubs aren’t treated as partners

The Dempo SC chairman expressed his unhappiness over the current scenario of the I-League and believes that an overhaul is vital for it to be successful…

Shrinivas Dempo, the chairman of Dempo SC, opines that the future of I-League remains gloomy if the clubs aren’t given their due.

The clubs are calling for the I-League to be made a separate legal entity, as per the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) club licensing norms, which shall give them a larger say in the running of the league.

However given that the All India Football Federation (AIFF) have sold the entire Indian football, including the I-League, rights to IMG-Reliance for which they get a pre-determined sum each year, the avenues for the clubs to earn revenue remains restricted to ticket sales, sponsorship on the jerseys and a few boards on the stadium.

Although today the I-League isn’t the most commercially viable product, the AIFF-IMG-Reliance deal is so structured that the clubs would never benefit financially from the sale of broadcast rights, something which is the primary source of revenue for the clubs in successful leagues across the world.

“The cumulative spend by Indian football clubs of I-League stature is about INR 140 crore. The operating costs are as high as 85% with more than 70% is salaries. Unless we have more say in I-League and clubs are treated as partners of the property, the future looks bleak,” said Dempo at the Roundtable focusing on Indian football market which was organized by International Football Arena (IFA) at Delhi.

Dempo further added that the ball is in AIFF’s court to resolve the problems faced by the clubs and thereby pave way for a better future for the I-League.

“It is now the onus of AIFF to engage in a dialogue with clubs to usher in a new era of feasible, profitable and healthy football in India,” he said.

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