The All India Football Federation (AIFF) general secretary Kushal Das affirmed that the talks have begun on a positive note with their commercial and marketing partners, IMG-Reliance with regards to merging the two leagues in the country, namely the I-League and the Indian Super League (ISL).
Last weekend, there was a meeting in Mumbai with Praful Patel, President of the AIFF, Das, Sundar Raman and Chirag Tanna, who serve as CEO and General Manager at Reliance Sports respectively.
At the AIFF’s Executive Committee meeting in Delhi on Monday, Patel informed they held a meeting with their partners last week and there will be more of these discussions. He went on to state that contrary to the view in general, the AIFF is working hard to ensure India has one league in future and that every stakeholder’s interests will be kept in mind.
“This was just a first meeting. We decided to relook at the existing structures in Indian football with regards to three things – development, the current competitions and the national team. The idea is that all these aspects must ensure that the national team does well for which we need a league of at least five-to-six months in a year. This was the basic theme,” Das informed Goal.
“It was a good meeting. At the Executive Committee too, Mr.Patel informed that we are working on a blueprint with a proper plan looking at the overall development of Indian football. We want to work with all the stakeholders before any decision is arrived upon,” he added.
While there has been reports that only three I-League clubs will be considered in case of a merger, Das stated that it was too early to make a comment on the same.
“For now all of that is a rumour and there are just people talking about it. The thing is that we want to ensure that at least the supporter-based clubs are a part of the Premier League of the country. We want to work it out as much as possible,” he mentioned.
Despite the calls to ensure India has one league in the years to come, the AIFF invited DSK Shivajians to participate in the current edition of the I-League through their Request for Proposal (RFP) initiative which allows corporates to get a direct entry into the country’s top division with an assurance of being safeguarded from relegation for a period of three years.
“When DSK came into the I-League, they were fully aware that there were talks on with regards to having one league in future. They have accepted that fact and when it happens, they shall review it. There are no guarantees that when we have a new league, they will be a part of it,’ stated Das.
According to AIFF sources, a clause has been inserted in their contract with DSK-Shivajians confirming the above mentioned statement by Das.