The Churchill Brothers CEO has questioned as to how the commercial and marketing partners could dictate terms to the Indian FA…
While IMG-Reliance are keen to kick-start their Indian Premier League (IPL) style league come January next year, Valanka Alemao opines that the corporates willing to invest in the new franchisees must instead opt to associate themselves with the I-League teams.
“Tomorrow if they (the Indian FA) want the IMG-Reliance league, they must tell the corporates to tie up with the existing clubs. If today, I go to AFC or FIFA and tell that ‘We are the Premier League in the country and these guys want to have another league in the peak period’. Do you think FIFA will allow that? How can they take such a decision?” she questioned.
Alemao claimed ignorance on the terms and conditions present in the contact between the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and IMG-Reliance and added that there is a sense of disarray in Indian football in general.
“Nobody can dictate terms to us. I have no clarity on the contract between IMG-Reliance and AIFF. And how can IMG-Reliance dictate terms to the body of Indian football? I have worked closely with Priyaranjan Dasmunshi and I know what football meant to him. I don’t understand how it is happening now.
“If you have seen the movie ‘Invictus’, the movie on Nelson Mandela. What were South Africa? You shouldn’t mix politics and sport. It must be transparent and clear. It mustn’t be pushed to an extent that things go wrong.”
IMG-Reliance signed a Rs.700 crore 15-year deal with the AIFF for the sponsorship and marketing rights of Indian football activities, including the I-League. When the deal was announced back in December 2010, it was welcomed by most stakeholders as they hoped that things would move in the right direction.
“I thought some people are coming with money, somebody would invest for the sport to grow and obviously they would also expect returns. Today every sponsor wants a return and visibility. Nobody is dumb. They will raise the standard with regards to the infrastructure. You need facilities for the kids to come and play. We need to improve not by superseding (by creating a new league). There is some communication gap.
“The way things are moving, they want the clubs to get frustrated. The AIFF and IMG-Reliance are two sides of the same coin.”
The 32-year old stated that while the clubs have been investing in Indian football for ages, now when the time has come for revamping the old structures and earning a return on invest, the AIFF and IMG-Reliance are sidelining the existing bunch.
“We won the biggest championship (I-League) in the country and we haven’t got the prize money. They pay you at the end of next season. They need to revamp the entire thing. Throughout your life, you cannot run like this. You need to make it feasible. Now is the time where a club should generate revenue. The federation should get together where it’s a win-win situation for everyone.
“We are running a club for so many years. The prize amount is not even the cost of one player. Everybody is running the club because they love football. Today I don’t think passion should die down because of AIFF.”
She stressed that India doesn't need another league and added that the owners of every I-League club is frustrated.
"I have the highest regards for Bhaichung Bhutia for what he has done for the country. He feels that IMG-Reliance league is a very good thing. I kept on asking him: 'Are you looking at from the players or club owners’ perspective. I don’t agree with you on IMG-Reliance league.' If I don’t believe in it, why would I agree to a slow death. Rather I wind-up now and sit back.
"Why should I wind-up when I have sweated it out (for several years). My father (Churchill Alemao) eats, sleeps and drinks football. You are going to kill something like this. All the owners are frustrated and it is very sad."
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