The 28-year-old also pointed out that for a unified league in the future, financial sacrifices will have to be made.
In conversation with ESPN, Bengaluru FC CEO Parth Jindal stressed the importance of introducing a single league system in Indian football with a promotion and relegation system. Such a move would require financial sacrifice on the stakeholders in Indian football clubs but would according to Jindal pay off for the greater good of the sport in the country.
“The ground reality of Indian football today is that every single member of Indian football is losing money. And everybody is losing money hand over fist,” he said. “ISL teams are losing far more money than I-League teams. We were in the I-League two years ago. We know the numbers in I-League, and we now know the numbers in ISL.”
“The ISL organisers’ view is that if you want to come into ISL, there’s a cost involved, because they are trying to do things in a much bigger and more professional way. The I-League teams are saying we are already burning money, we don’t have the ability to burn more money. It’s very easy for me to say there should be a unified league, but everyone has to sacrifice. I am ready to sacrifice.”, said Jindal.
The BFC CEO also called for transparency on the part of the AIFF with respect to the unification of the I-League and the Indian Super League.
“My dream is [for] a unified league, for sure. I think there needs to be a top division, a second division, and there needs to be promotion and relegation,” he told ESPN. “We want Aizawl stories in the ISL. We want a Real Kashmir story in the ISL. We want Chennai City story in the ISL.”
“We were the Chennai City four (sic) years ago when BFC won I-League in our inaugural season,” said Jindal, reflecting on BFC’s I-League triumph in 2013-14. “Nobody thought we had a shot in hell to win the I-League and we won it. What needs to happen is there needs to be a unified league. For that to happen, financial sacrifices will need to be made.”
BFC made the switch to the ISL which now has 10 teams with Jamshedpur FC and BFC added to the existing roster of eight sides. “It was one of the toughest decisions in my life to move from the I-League to the ISL, because our philosophy has always been that we need to play in the premier tournament or league in the country,” said Jindal. “We want to represent India in Asia and that’s always been our dream.”
The ISL was also reportedly in talks with the Kolkata clubs, Mohun Bagan and East Bengal FC which then fell through due to several issues including franchise fees and proposed mergers with the existing Kolkata club, ATK.
“No I-League team today is in a position to make more loss, and an ISL team will think if they are making so much loss, why would they allow an I-League team in without paying the franchise fee?” he said. “They [AIFF and their marketing and commercial partners IMG-Reliance] could say, ‘Hey, listen. It’s not going to happen today. It will happen in 2022, or 2023.’
Jindal stated his belief that all stakeholders must come together to work out a visible roadmap for the future of the Indian game.
“I think what’s irritating a lot of people is the unpredictability of what’s going to happen. There’s a cloud over our head — not the ISL teams’ heads, but on the I-League guys. They don’t know what’s happening to them next year.”
Jindal believes the AIFF must sit with the I-League teams and explain their roadmap for the future, and take in suggestions and comments from them in the process. “I think what everyone is asking for is transparency,” he said. “If we get a transparent roadmap, I think everyone will be happier.”