The All India Football Federation's (AIFF) senior vice-president, Subrata Dutta has stated that the Executive Committee was unanimous in giving the green signal to the IMG-Reliance league. He said the tournament has been tentatively scheduled to held from January 18 to March 30.
"It was an unanimous decision by the members of the Executive Committee. This tournament will certainly raise the profile of Indian football," he opined.
The auction for the eight franchises to take part in the tournament will be held in September-October while the players' auction will be held in November.
Pune, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Kochi, Goa, Delhi and Bangalore will be the eight cities where the franchises would be based. Guwahati and Hyderabad have been kept as reserve franchises.
Dutta said that the current I-League clubs can bid for franchises. He said each team will have an icon player, who will be an international player and who has played in the World Cup and major international tournaments.
He revealed, "The tournament will feature 176 players with 22 in each team. There will be an icon player for each team. There will be nine more international players in each team, eight Indian players from domestic league and four local players from the city and surrounding areas.”
IMG-R has already signed 37 domestic players, including the likes of former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia and current stars Gouramangi Moirangthem and Syed Rahim Nabi. All the 20 players of AIFF developmental side Pailan Arrows will also be part of the league.
Dutta said that the 57 players, who have signed with the IMG-R, will have a four-week camp in Cooperage, Mumbai starting early this month under former East Bengal coach Trevor Morgan.
"Trevor Morgan will be the coach for the camp, Arshad Hussain will be the assistant while Debasish Mukherjee will be the goalkeeper coach," he said.
He mentioned that the names of four icon players will be announced before the franchisee auction while the other four will be named after that.
"Four icon players will be announced before the franchise auction while the remaining four will be announced after the auction. The names of all the international players will also be known by the end of October," he said.
He also gave a hint of the entertainment aspect of the league, though without elaborating. Dutta stated, "The franchises will have brand ambassadors which will be Bollywood or regional film stars and we will have 120 minute show.”
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