AIFF signs 700-crore deal with IMG-RIL

The All India Football Federation roped in International Management Group-Reliance Industries Limited as their commercial partner by signing a 15-year agreement worth Rs 700 crore, one of the most lucrative deals in Indian sports

Last Updated: Dec 09, 2010, 21:10 PM IST

New Delhi: The All India Football Federation today roped in International Management Group-Reliance Industries Limited as their commercial partner by signing a 15-year agreement worth Rs 700 crore, one of the most
lucrative deals in Indian sports.

The deal was signed between AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das and John Loffhagen, senior vice-president IMG -- one of the world`s leading sports management company -- at the AIFF headquarters here.

"We have entered into an agreement with IMG-RIL for 15 years for the promotion and development of football. We are excited that this will lead to wider reach of football in the country and elsewhere," AIFF President Praful Patel told a press conference after the Annual General Body Meeting of the
federation.

The agreement with AIFF grants IMG-RIL all commercial rights to football in India, including sponsorship, advertising, broadcasting, merchandising, film, video and data, intellectual property, franchising and new league
rights.

The AIFF has also mandated IMG-RIL to develop the
branding and marketing aspects related to national team, domestic competitions and participating teams.

IMG-RIL would also look at scheduling, restructuring and reformatting of the domestic competitions. In addition, IMG Reliance plans to develop, operate and administer a new
professional football league in the country. Through AIFF, IMG-RIL will also work with the member associations in developing these various proposals.

Patel said IMG-RIL and the AIFF will work together to develop Indian football talent, significantly impact the competitive level of the sport as well as attract high quality international players. This will include training facilities, modeled on IMG Academies in Bradenton, Florida.

He disclosed that FIFA had also decided to give USD 2 million to the AIFF and it would be used for the development of infrastructure and together with the new deal, Indian football will touch greater heights.

"FIFA will also give USD 2 million for development of infrastructure and we will start using it in floodlighting some stadiums, including Ravindra Sarovar Stadium, Bangalore Football Stadium and Cooperage in Mumbai, so that the I-League matches are held in the evening under lights," he said.

"We hope Indian football will scale greater heights with effective marketing and development at the grassroot level," he said.

Patel admitted that the earlier partner Zee Sports was not being able to promote football effectively and the AIFF had wanted a stronger partner.

"We have wanted to see that Indian football was marketed effectively and meaningfully and develop the game better. We had a contract with Zee Sports five years ago, which was for 10 years with an option to extend it for another 10 years. While we had a fruitful relationship with Zee Sports we felt
we need to do something even more effectively. We need to bring in much stronger partner.

"In an amicable agreement which was reached between AIFF and Zee Sports, we have terminated the old contract and entered into a new contract with IMG-RIL. The agreement with IMG-RIL is for the balance 15 years of Zee Sports. For the five years, IMG-RIL will give money to AIFF under the same terms and conditions we had with Zee Sports. In the next 10
years, IMG-RIL will pay AIFF an annual amount of Rs 50 crore or 20 per cent of the revenue whichever is more.

"IMG-RIL has also given a buyout amount of Rs 70 crore to Zee Sports to exit from the agreement five years before expiry," the AIFF president said.

Patel said IMG-RIL will decide on the sponsorship and broadcast partners of the I-League which have been running with any telecast of matches since it kicked off on December 3.

He said the bidding process initiated recently by the AIFF for the broadcast rights was a back-up plan and "does not hold good" anymore. Three channels --- 24 Ghanta, joint bids of Kolkata TV and Channel 10 and another one from Kolkata had applied for the telecast rights of the I-League.

"They (bids) no longer hold good anymore. That was an interim arrangement, back up plan in case this deal was delayed. Now that the deal is done with IMG-RIL, we will decide on the new telecast holders and sponsor for the I-League. I hope they will do it fast," he said.

IMG senior vice-president Loffhagen said the deal would lead to profound changes in Indian football and develop it better.

"We hoped the deal will help in bringing profound changes in Indian football with better marketing. With the World Cup awarded to Russia and Qatar it is exciting time for football and I feel India can aspire for better things," Loffhagen said.

PTI