Valanka Alemao has called for an evaluation on the cumulative amount spent in the past in order to highlight that there have been huge investments made by the existing clubs.
While the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) commercial and marketing partners, IMG-Reliance are keen to kickstart their IPL-style league in January next year which is expected to rope in big corporate houses, Alemao has launched a scathing attack on the initiative by stating that it could possibly devour the I-League.
“You are coming up with an entity which shall sideline the older clubs and will later supersede all the other clubs. That is exactly what will happen if we let this to happen. I don’t understand how they can say big money (will be invested). Over a decade, we have been running a club. Mohun Bagan are the oldest football club in India and so are East Bengal. So if you make an evaluation over the period of time, how much money have we spent? You mean to say just because everybody is going through a cash crunch right now so there are some bigwigs who have pots of money and they want to come into sport. Sorry but we can’t make Indian football the next spot-fixer. I don’t think it (IMG-Reliance’s league) should ever happen,” opined the 32-year old.
Alemao pointed that IPL is popular as India is numero uno in cricket and some of the world’s best talent come and ply their trade in the tournament. However with regards to football with the national team being ranked 146, the interest levels of seeing these set of players playing with those who plied their trade in some of the best European clubs in their career and are now retired wouldn’t be the best bet.
“Cricket and Bollywood work in India. Bollywood has the big money and glamour while Cricket works because we play the World Cup. We have a national team which people have grown with. You come to football. We are not a World Cup qualifier. Football in India is because of Goa, Kolkata, Bengal, Kerala and Punjab clubs. Why did Mahindra and JCT have to shut down at some point of time? It is because the packaging of Indian football has not been good.”
The Churchill Brothers CEO believes that the clubs coming on board with the AIFF on the IMG-Reliance’s initiative would eventually lead to their own demise.
“The bottomline is that corporates are going to come in and start with IMG-Reliance. They will be so big that no Churchill Brothers, no Mohun Bagan or East Bengal will be able to compete with it. It’s like slow death. All of us will have to kind of wind-up. This is the way they are trying to move.”
IMG-Reliance did try and contact a few clubs to loan their players for the said league but their attempts were futile as none of the teams were willing to budge. While there has been a change in strategy from their end by speaking to the club owners directly on an individual basis in order to find a breakthrough, Churchill Brothers would certainly be a tough nut to crack.
“Sorry, we don’t run a club to loan some six players. I run a club with about 50 players and now my entire purpose is to loan players!
“They (IMG-Reliance) did contact initially and then all the clubs got together and decided no clubs will loan their players. Why should another league come when the league which is going on, the federation is saying we don’t even have money for travel and stay? And you are talking about creating a league in the peak period, that is, January, February and March. That is the best time in the country and you make clubs play at 3 pm on a weekday?”
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