I-League club representatives to meet AIFF-IMG

Mumbai: Six representatives of the I-League Professional Football Clubs Association will meet officials of All India Football Federation soon over the contentious issue of the proposed IPL-style league, the club owners said today.

The I-League club owners, eleven of them in attendance and three others giving their consent to the decision taken, met here today and agreed to AIFF`s suggestion for an across the table meeting, it was announced today.

"A letter has come from Kushal Das (AIFF`s general secretary) asking for a joint meeting with IMG (AIFF`s marketing partners). We today decided that six of our members would attend the meeting," said I-League club Pune FC`s owner Nandan Piramal at a media conference.

"Raj Gomes (president of IPFCA), Chirag Tanna (its secretary), two of our vice presidents, Valanka Alemao (CEO of Churchill Brothers) and Mustafa Ghouse (from newly formed I-League club JSW) will attend the meeting on our behalf," said Piramal.

Piramal said the meeting was basically to find out how the two-month long league proposed to be held early next year will benefit Indian football.

"We would like to know how such a league will benefit Indian football, I-League - which is the premier football tournament in the country - and the I-League clubs. We are going into this meeting with an open mind and without any preconceived notion," Piramal said.

"We would like to know whether it is just about making money for someone or for improving Indian football," he said.

Valanka Alemao, daughter of Churchill Brothers` owner, said that AIFF should not take the clubs for granted.

"The message that is sent out today by us to the AIFF is not to take us for granted," she said.
It was also revealed that none of the club owners have any idea about the contents of the 15-year agreement signed up by AIFF with IMG-R in 2010.

"They say it has got a confidentiality clause," she said.
Piramal and Valanka insisted that the I-League clubs have
signed up all the players they need for the season ahead.

"I feel bad for the players who are sitting in the middle of this. We believe that what we are doing is for the good of Indian football and I-League is the bedrock of Indian football. That was the basis of our discussion today," he said.

"All those players we really want to sign up have been signed. Sunil Chhetri is the last of the players to sign up. Players are thinking about their long term career. I-League is their preferred tournament and they have to focus on that," Piramal said.

Valanka said the IPL-style league proposed by the AIFF and IMG-R does not exist anywhere in the world.

"We are struggling in world football, where our rankings are below 140. How is a league that is run for only two months going to help," she queried.

Asked what steps would the IPFCA take if AIFF decides to go ahead with the proposed IPL-style franchise-based league, Piramal said it was not in his style to answer hypothetical question.

"All I want to say is we would take the necessary steps," he said while reiterating that the I-League clubs would not loan any player to the proposed league nor sign up anyone from the league.

At today`s meeting the clubs endorsed the decision taken at their last meeting that they will have their own tournament if the AIFF goes ahead and conducts the proposed IPL-style league.

"In India, the period between November and February is the best to play football or any other sports. We can`t remain idle," Piramal said.
The IMG-R league is proposed to be held between January 5 and March 5, 2014.


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