The last month or so has been bad for Indian football given the negative aura surrounding the game which started with Mahindra United’s decision to close shutters followed by the Bob Houghton contract issues, the scrapping of Vision Asia-India in Delhi and Tamil Nadu by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and herein joins another in the elite list.
The official broadcasters of the Indian football, Zee Sports have decided to close shutters of their Indian production team who were involved in producing the football content. As many as 15-to-20 employees were asked to submit their resignation on the 20th of this month as the channel plans to shift their operations to Dubai along the lines of sister channel, Ten Sports.
The channel reportedly began their cutting down process last year when the news bulletins and several other talk shows were stopped with several employees being asked to quit.
In an internal meeting on the 12th May, the management allegedly informed the employees that their future would depend on the ongoing negotiations with the All India Football Federation (AIFF) over the contract they have which has been going on for almost a year now.
Last week, the HR individually asked the employees to submit their resignation which did leave several employees miffed. It is believed that the channel offered a three month salary promise and also added that if the negotiations with the AIFF go well, they would outsource their production to the current team on a freelance basis.
As a direct consequence of this, none of the crucial final round matches will be broadcasted on Zee Sports and the Super Cup remains up in the air as well.
“Our salaries have not been increased for the last 2 years or so and neither have our grades been upgraded,” informed one of the now former employees, keeping his identity anonymous.
When contacted Atul Pande, the CEO of Sports for Essel Group, he remained defiant explained that the production shall be conducted on a contractual basis.
“We show around 75-to-80 LIVE games in a season. We don’t need people on board as we shall now do it on a contractual basis. We have given them (the Indian football production team) an offer indicating the minimum number of days they can assign to us for our engagements,” said Pande.
It is reliably learnt that the Ten Sports and co want to launch a few niche sports channels with the one dedicated to football called ‘Ten Action’ which could bring the Spanish Primera Division or the La Liga to the Indian fans.
As far as Indian football is concerned, there are questions to be raised over the broadcast of the I-League or the Federation Cup, given that the entire production team has been dissolved and that doesn’t indicate happier times for the Indian football fans.
The future will be decided by the negotiations between the channel and the AIFF and whether there will be an agreement reached or not is a question which shall be answered hopefully in the next few weeks.