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I-league – ISL merger a gloomy phase for Indian football

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This article is a fan-based opinion. Khel Now does not endorse the viewpoint...                                                      

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) and IMG-Reliance signed a 15-year, 700cr deal in Dec 2010. IMG-R has invested a lot of money in creating the Indian Super League (ISL) and will want it to be the premier league in India, with the I-league becoming League I and I-league 2nd Division becoming League II as per the proposed plan.

If IMG-R wants the ISL to be the premier league in India, they will have to add a few I-league teams into the heavily-marketed pet project. The AIFF President Praful Patel, earlier this year, has said that there will be no merger this year. IMG-R, meanwhile, are doing everything possible to bring in the big-3 of Indian football-- Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Bengaluru FC under their clout.

For these clubs to come in, they will have to pay Rs 15 crore as franchise fees like every ISL team pays every season. Rs 15 crore is close to the total budget of these three clubs. Additionally, ATK will not want to have any other teams from Kolkata as their fanbase will get hit and there will be issues for home grounds as well.

Aizawl FC have made it even more difficult for the AIFF and IMG-R by championing the I-league. On average, an ISL team spends around 50-60 crores every season. Aizawl can, in no way, generate this amount. IMG-R will not want to accommodate the champions if they can’t generate enough money required to be in the cash-rich tournament. No team on this planet will accept to get relegated to the 2nd tier league after becoming the champions of the premier league of the country just on the pretext of not being rich enough.

Players who play in the I-league also play in the ISL. If the merger happens, then there will be fresh signings of players. ISL teams can easily out muscle the I-league teams financially in signing players. I-league teams will only bag below-par or cheaper players, making a huge difference in the quality of teams.

There is no relegation system in the ISL for the first few years due to contractual obligations with the franchises. No team will be motivated to play in the 2nd tier when the champions will have no assurity of promotion to the top league of the country. Three Goan clubs pulled out of the I-league last year, opposing the proposed structure. If the merger happens, it is likely that few more clubs will pull out.

The ISL was created to promote football and make the game popular in India. Now, it looks like IMG-R want to takes over the AIFF. The future of Indian football, hence, looks gloomy.

 

Published: Fri May 12, 2017 01:03 PM IST

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