Television rights for IFA up for grabs

MUMBAI: The television rights for the Indian Football Association (IFA) in West Bengal are up for grabs.

Sports marketing firm Total Sports Entertainment India (TSEI) is conducting the tender process along with IFA. Speaking to TSEI MD Indian subcontinent and Middle East Navneet Sharma says, "This is the oldest state football association in the country and caters to the mecca of Indian Football i.e West Bengal. Players such as Bhaichung Bhutia play here."

"ESPN Star Sports are the incumbents. They have been covering the event for the past ten years. The IFA is hoping for more visibility through a new deal for at least a five year period. The process is expected to be completed sometime next month. All the national sports broadcasters are speaking to IFA in this regard. There are regional channels also who have shown a lot of interest and are in talks with the IFA honorary secratary Subroto Dutta and us."

"We could have a national broadcaster and a regional broadcaster covering the event. Television production arrangements will have to be made by the bidders and we are evaluating the proposals in terms of the coverage being offered,"added Sharma. But, he was mum when asked about the kind of revenue the IFA hopes to generate from a new deal.

Clubs such as Kingfisher, East Bengal, Mohan Bagan, Mohd Sporting participatein the events. The IFA has two events for broadcasters - the IFA leagues and the IFA Shield. IFA Leagues go on for a period of four months June-July and October-November. In all 50 matches are played.

The IFA Shield generally happens in the November- December period. At least one foreign side takes part in this event. Last year TSEI had brought down the German club Bayern Munich to participate. This year TSEI is looking at two foreign teams participating.

Sharma adds that one event that will not be covered by the deal is the Futsal event. This is an innovation that TSEI had introduced last year. Here unlike traditional football in Futsal each team has just five members. Each half lasts for 20 minutes. That makes the game speedier and reduces periods of boredom. Futsal is organised under the aegis of the IFA.

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