BY RAHUL BALI Follow @rahulatma on twitter
On Friday, the I-League clubs and IMG-Reliance would have their third meeting in close to three years since they signed the deal with the All India Football Federation (AIFF) as their commercial and marketing partners. Promotion of the country’s top division league will be the primary agenda.
It would be fair to suggest that the previous two meetings between the said parties didn’t yield any tangible results. First when Jefferson Slack, the vice-president for football at IMG, promised to reach out to the clubs, with a plan on the way forward for Indian football in eight weeks, which never saw the light of the day as the said official remained incommunicado thereafter.
The second gathering was before the start of last season’s I-League where the clubs stormed out of the meeting. However it was decided that the AIFF would seek legal opinion to see if the I-League could be made into a separate legal entity – which again remained in limbo.
With IMG-Reliance being asked by Praful Patel, the AIFF president, to work on a marketing plan for the I-League at the last Executive Committee meet where he reiterated that the existing league remains the country’s premier competition and wouldn’t be threatened by the new entity created by their commercial partners.
According to sources close to GOAL, IMG-Reliance have worked on a marketing plan for the I-League which revolves around outdoor marketing and promotions on the radio nationally.
However the clubs’ primary demand is for an improved broadcast coverage of the I-League which must encompass a pre and post-match analysis programme on matchdays with some of the noted football commentators and also to have a weekly magazine and highlights shows respectively.
One must also point to the fact that several clubs too haven’t indulged in any fan activities in order to entice the supporters to the stadiums. While the responsibility of marketing the I-League lies on IMG-Reliance, the clubs too need to buck up and instead of spending obscene amount of money in roping in players, it would be wise if they channelize the available resources wisely.
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