Jindal: Will Chhetri stay with Bengaluru if we do not offer ISL?

The CEO opined that he didn't believe the ISL provided the best of hunting grounds for youth development, hinted Sunil Chhetri's decision changed his stance...

Parth Jindal, the CEO of Bengaluru FC and a scion of the renowned JSW group who own Bengaluru FC, has dropped a bombshell that isn’t going to likely go down well with many in the Indian football fraternity. Airing his thoughts, the head honcho, who has seen his pet project win the I-League trophy last year, in their first year of inception besides winning the Federation Cup this year, believes the Indian Super League (ISL) isn’t the best platform for players to develop.    

“I still feel ISL is not the right avenue for the development of a player. I still don't believe ISL is the platform that will take Indian football forward. But I don't want to deny a player the opportunity to play in ISL as long as they come back to us. It's difficult because for the three months they are away, they will be playing under different coaches and systems,” elucidated Jindal, who explained he is doing all he can to stave clear of criticising the nascent tournament, to The Times of India.

Jindal believed a lot of progress worked on by coach Ashley Westwood would be hampered, with the players going away.

“A lot of the progress that Westwood has managed to make with the players might get undermined. That is my fundamental issue with ISL. But it is the way that the AIl India Football Federation (AIFF) has thought we should take things forward and I don't want to cause a problem.”

Jindal was reminded of his staunch resistance to release players for the ISL last year, and if questioned whether the decisions of Sunil Chhetri, Robin Singh and Thoi Singh to join up with the tournament had mellowed his opposition, the 24-year-old’s reply was interesting.

“We want to work with AIFF and IMG-Reliance because they own the rights to Indian football. I can understand a player's sentiment of wanting to be part of ISL. The question is if we don't release them, how many of them will stay with us? Will a Sunil Chhetri, who has probably a few years left in his career, stay with BFC if we don't offer him ISL? We had a long chat with the coaches and it was an extremely tough decision.”

Clearly, the belief that players who wouldn’t be given a chance to take part would hold grudges against the club, seemed to tilt the balance.

Quizzed if the arrangement between the ISL authorized franchises and Bengaluru FC is a hegemonic one, with respect to the participant players, the CEO replied, “There are two separate agreements we have with ISL.One is with Sunil, Robin and Thoi. Now they are ISL-contracted players, who will be loaned back to BFC. With the others, they are BFC players, who will be loaned to ISL.

“The contract is very simple - they will go for the ISL and come back after it. If they get injured during ISL, then they won't return to the team, that ISL will have to manage. Similarly, if one of them gets injured during I-League, then he won't be going for ISL. While they are playing in ISL, we will not be able to assess them physically.”

Finally, the Harvard student explained that he thinks deeply of investment and with regards to seeing his own franchise in the tournament, he hinted the stipulations put forth by the ISL organizing committee were unmitigable.

“Shrinivas Dempo had said recently that he spends Rs 10-12 crore on I-League and Rs 35-40 crore on ISL. If I have that kind of money, do I spend it on building my youth academy or spend it on ISL for three months? If AIFF decides on merging ISL and I-League, then we have no choice. In its current form, to enter ISL is difficult. They didn't allow us last year when we wanted to be part of ISL. They didn't allow us to retain our players or retain Ashley Westwood as the manager. They wanted a lot of stipulations to be changed, which is fair enough because that's how they were dealing with other franchises and didn't want to make any exceptions for us."

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