The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has been urged to implement youth support and development programs at the I-League club level. I-League clubs are not in favor of introducing franchise-based football leagues along the lines of the IPL, as proposed by IMG-Reliance, AIFF’s commercial partner. Instead, they have urged the AIFF to spend part of its funds on development club infrastructure.
Debabrata Sarkar, official for East Bengal, has voiced the opinion that the AIFF and IMG-Reliance are making decisions without consulting the I-League clubs.
I-League clubs are not in favor of the AIFF’s decision to alter the formats of Federation Cup and the I-League, India’s biggest football satta markets. The winners of these events represent India in the AFC Cup. Although the AIFF consulted the I-League clubs before dividing the I-League into two zones, it did not consider it necessary to consult the clubs before deciding to implement the home-and-away format for the Federation Cup.
Sarkar said that the clubs’ sponsors will suffer the most if the I-League is played according to zones. Questioning the AIFF’s cost-cutting methods, he demanded to know if the AIFF realizes the negative impact it would have on the clubs.
According to Sarkar, it is the need of the hour to implement a sports policy and funds for financially weaker clubs. Speaking about the trials and difficulties of Indian football, he said that several states do not even have I-League clubs, while existing I-League clubs are fighting for survival, as a result of which football is losing popularity in the country.
He said that I-League clubs are open to change, but have to be consulted before their parent body implements any changes. He also urged the AIFF’s commercial partner to earmark infrastructure development funds for each club. Indian football can survive only if each club is allowed to grow independently, he opined.
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