AIFF, IMG Reliance plan to launch IPL-style football league

AIFF, IMG Reliance plan to launch IPL-style football league

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MUMBAI: Under criticism from all quarters over lack of action to improve the condition of football in the country, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and its marketing partner IMG Reliance are planning a IPL-style franchise-based league that would run parallel to I League, the national club competition.

?The franchise based league was always part of the contract with IMG Reliance, but as of now nothing has been finalised. We received a lot of suggestions on how to go about the league,? AIFF general secretary Kushal Das told Indiantelevision.

The AIFF today held a meeting at its headquarters in New Delhi attended by its members as well as representatives of IMGR.

Some members suggested keeping the league limited to six franchises while some suggested having an eight team event. ?We will be inviting franchises for the league, I League club owners can also take part in the process. However, we are yet to finalise anything,? asserted Das.

While it is true that the AIFF and IMGR faced flak from I League clubs for failing to bring about any perceptible change in Indian football, what also got the two parties working is the launch of Premier League Soccer in West Bengal which stole the limelight and grabbed international attention.

The Indian Football Association sanctioned league which saw millions of dollars being splurged on franchises and players has hit rough waters since it was announced with much fun-fare. The league which was expected to be held in March had to be postponed due to lack of proper infrastructure and support from the state government.

The AIFF is planning to create a two-month window after the conclusion of I-League. However, questions are being raised whether players will be able to participate in the competition after playing for six months of grueling football in the I League.

To accommodate the new league and to take care of player fatigue the AIFF might consider shortening the I League as well. ?There were suggestions that the I League should be shortened to accommodate the new league,? added Das.

The AIFF is confident that both Indian and international players will be part of the league. Fabio Cannavaro and Hernan Crespo, who were part of the PLS, are likely to play alongside top Indian players like Sunil Chhetri, Jeje Lalpekhlua and Syed Rahim Nabi.

The Indian Football Association (West Bengal), the governing body of football in West Bengal, had signed a 30-year deal with Celebrity Management Group to launch the PLS on the lines of US? Major League Soccer. The PLS had earned Rs 797.5 million from the sale of six franchises.

Players like Hernan Crespo, Jay Jay Okocha, Concecao, Robert Pires and Fabio Cannavaro had signed up as icon players. The international media rights of the league were sold to sports media company MP & Silva.

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