New Delhi: As Pune FC gear up for the AFC Champions League play-off, the elite club tournament of Asia, a senior official of the Piramal Group-owned club said that the outfit is reaping rich dividends for strictly following club licensing criteria.
Pune FC is the only I-League club that met the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and the national club licensing criteria and now they have been granted a play-off slot for the Champions League.
Pune FC Head of Operations Chirag Tanna said the play-off slot means a lot to the club.
“The AFC Champions League play-off slot means a lot to everyone at the club. When the club was set up in 2007, playing in Asia was one of the goals. Indian clubs have not received the Champions League play-off spot for two years now, so we were not sure if we were going to get this,” Tanna said, adding that the licensing criteria makes the I-League clubs focus on other areas as well.
"It compels clubs to focus on areas like youth and fan development, and a robust administrative set up. It also implements salary caps and infrastructure development, both of which will help make Indian club football financially sustainable in time to come,” he said.
“The AIFF needs to hit a score of 600 points for an I-League club to get direct entry into the group stages of AFC Champions League (not the play-offs). Our points have improved significantly in the last 12 months and in 2013-14 we have managed a score of 526. We are within touching distance of where we aim to be. With a sustained effort, I’m certain we will achieve this goal,” he said.