IS I-LEAGUE COMING TO AN END? - THE INDIAN LEAGUE

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Sunday, 11 October 2015

IS I-LEAGUE COMING TO AN END?


This was a question that was asked on Quora.com, a Question/Answers based Social Networking Website. I wrote an answer it and thought to share it here. Please read it and give your views.


No, I League is not coming to an end but it is being choked to death by IMG-Reliance. In 2010, AIFF sold rights of Indian Football. With this partnership, IMG-R became the Marketing Partners of AIFF and were responsible for the promotion and marketing  of Indian National Team and also India's Premier Football League, I-League. It was expected that this deal would revolutionise Indian Football and Our team can be among the best in Asia.

But The Honchos at IMG-R thought otherwise. Instead of improving I League and marketing it better, they started planning an IPL Style tournament. All the footballing countries around the world have proper football structures with One Premier League with Lower Division Leagues and one Cup Tournaments. But the White Masters at IMG-Reliance thought that if Indian Football has to rise, a new tournament has to be created where retired and former superstars will attract the European Football loving crowd to the stadiums. So, all the efforts and resources were spent on delivering a Footballing Nation (Let's Football). 

All this while, India's premier league, i.e. I League took a back stage. All Leagues around the world start in August or September and end in May. But in India, it starts in January and ends in May. This gives only four And half months to stage the entire league. The catch here is that while ISL is promoted like the biggest thing in the world, there is virtually no promotion of I League. You wouldn't get a single advertisement in any TV channel that will inform you about India's Premier Football League. All the money that was to be used for Indian Football's Development suddenly disappears. 

In ISL, all matches were organised by IMG-R and they also took care of Promotion and Marketing and even the infrastructure development was done by them. In I League, it's totally opposite. Right from Infrastructure development to Organisation of Matches in on Clubs. They also have to Abide by AFC Club Liscencing criteria which is not necessary for ISL franchises.

Even after doing all this and satisfying all the criteria of AFC, what do the I League club get? Nothing. They do not get anything from broadcasting rights and no money from central pool of sponsors. All this money is gobbled up by AIFF and IMG Reliance. The Champion of I League gets Rs 70 Lakhs as price money which is fraction of what ISL champions get. As a matter of fact, Mumbai City FC got Rs 1.25 Crores for taking kids to play football during weekends.

All these I Leagues clubs did not wait for an attractive oppurtunity like ISL to invest in Indian Football. They came into it for their love of football. And this is how they are repaid with. Pune FC and Bhrat FC are almost dead. If things don't improve much, I m afraid, Indian Football will have a very grave future.

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