AIFF to request clubs to spare players for Arrows

Kolkata: All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel said that he would request the I-League clubs to let their former players stay at Indian Arrows for one more year for the betterment of the sport.

The team was formed by taking players from various I-League clubs for a year. But now the clubs want their players back.

"We will request them, but there is no directive as such. Everybody must be a part of it to take Indian football forward. After all, it`s for the development of the sport," Patel said.

Terming the side`s association with the Pailan Group a beginning of a new era, Patel said, "We are going to speak to the clubs and request them if they could spare the players for one more year."

After the federation`s under-23 side signed the five-year deal with Pailan, Patel said the team, formed last year to prepare the national team for the 2018 World Cup, had delivered by finishing ninth in the I-League.

"When the AIFF XI team started there were sceptics and a question mark on the team. But by finishing ninth, the boys achieved an important milestone. You never know in one or two years time they will go on to win the I-League.

"It was initially an experimental project and now it`s getting firm footing. I would like to see this as an important team in the I-League with great fan following like that of the other clubs," Patel added.

The AIFF is also contemplating developing a `mechanism` that would ensure that all zones are represented in the I-League.

"We want I League to be geographically defined. We must see that there is a team from the northeast. We want to develop a mechanism by which all zones would be represented. It will help in generating revenues," he said.

Patel reiterated that the relegation rule would not apply to the AIFF outfit.

"We have made it very clear that it`s a developmental project. So there is no question of looking at Indian Arrows like rest of the clubs. And why look back when they finished ninth (from 14 teams) in the I-League."

Asked about disbanding of Mahindra United and JCT, Patel said it`s not a worrying sign at all.

"The clubs exited for their own reasons. There are enough takers for Indian football clubs. I can really say with a sense of confidence that in the coming years, there will be a race and scramble for ownership of football clubs in India."

The AIFF supremo also assured that unlike in the last edition, the upcoming league, scheduled to begin on October 15, would not have an issue with TV telecast.

"We have signed a deal with IMG Reliance (for commercial rights). They are working out on TV rights. Details will be announced soon."

On the imbroglio with the clubs over AFC`s rule about 40 matches cap per player in a season, Patel said a committee had already made a recommendation and the matter was sorted out.

"It`s recommended that a player will be allowed to play 40 matches (local and I-League). If somebody played less than 45 minutes it will not be counted."

Asked whether Armando Colaco would continue with the Indian side, Patel said, "He has been appointed as an interim coach and the search is still on for the post."

He, however, added Colaco could be one of the contenders.

On the deal with Pailan Group, Patel said: "We have got an agreement with the Pailan Group for sponsorship of the developmental team of the AIFF that is popularly known as Indian Arrows."

"Pailan will not have the ownership. They will only give us support. We are looking forward to a new era and new beginning in the development of Indian football. I hope this association will take Indian football to greater heights.

"I still feel that Indian football is yet to regain the lost glory of the 1940s and 50s. Even at the Asian stage, we have a long way to go."

Impressed with the facilites at the Pailan Group, Patel said: "They have a wonderful campus and top class facility that is required for a football team."

Patel further said Desmond Bulpin would remain the coach of the Pailan Indian Arrows "as of now".