MUMBAI: Zeel-owned sports broadcaster Ten Sports has said that it was close to signing a deal with IMG Reliance for the broadcast rights of India‘s premier club competition I League and Federation Cup, an annual knockout style football tournament.
"Ten Sports has been supporting I league for the last 6 years and will continue to do so if given the opportunity. We are close to coming to an agreement with IMGR," Essel Group sports business CEO Atul Pande told Indiantelevision.com.
He also refuted claims by senior All India Football Federation officials that Ten Sports backed out of the Federation Cup deal at the last moment thereby leaving the football governing body and the commercial rights holder IMG Reliance in lurch.
"The claim made by some AIFF functionaries that we walked out of the deal is baseless and without merit," Pande asserts.
To the contrary, Pande said that the sports broadcaster will put the property on-air as soon as it gets the feed from IMGR. The production of the property is being taken care of by IMGR.
"IMGR has to share feeds so that we can put it on-air," said Pande.
According to industry sources, IMG Reliance is out in the market for a three year deal for both Federation Cup and I League. The negotiation with Ten Sports is stuck because IMGR feels the value it is being offered doesn‘t even cover its production cost.
It is talking to other national and regional broadcaster.
Earlier, the lack to live telecast had irked clubs who were promised by AIFF that its commercial partner IMGR was close to clinching a three-year deal with Ten Sports which would have guaranteed live telecast of atleast 15 games of Federation Cup and 75 games of I League.
Doordarshan had come to the rescue of AIFF agreeing to provide live coverage of the semi-final and final matches of the Federation Cup, which began 19 September.
In the previous edition of the Federation Cup, IMGR had roped in News Time as regional broadcast partner for West Bengal and Assam.
Pune FC head operations and I-League Professional Football Clubs Association‘ (IPFCA) general secretary Chirag Tanna is extremely disappointed with IMGR‘s lack of vision for the sport.
"IMGR has not been able to fulfill the commitments that they made to the clubs whether its marketing of I League or the broadcast part of it, they haven‘t delivered anything," Tanna lamented.