I-league clubs want AIFF to freeze relegation for 4 years

Panaji: I-League clubs have suggested the All India Football Federation should do away with relegation for the next four years to get Indian football back on track.

India coach Wim Koevermans, technical director Rob Baan, AIFF general secretary Kushal Das and I-League CEO Sunando Dhar held a meeting of the I-League clubs from Goa, Mumbai and Pune here on yesterday. A similar meeting will be held in Kolkata for clubs from East and northeast region later this week.

"The AIFF told us to spend a minimum of 25 per cent of our budget on youth development starting next season. We gave them an even simpler solution to build Indian football from scratch," a club owner said.

A suggestion from Sporting Clube de Goa president Peter Vaz, which was unanimously backed by other clubs, was to keep in abeyance the relegation for the next four years and give the clubs sufficient time to build their own teams.

"This is a good opportunity to introspect. If the AIFF can give new (corporate) clubs a three-year safety net (from relegation), they can do the same with existing clubs as well," explained Vaz, who feels clubs tend to spend exorbitant amounts on foreign players in a bid to win the I-League or save themselves from relegation.

Mohun Bagan striker Odafa Okolie was cited as an example of this. The Nigerian earns close to Rs 2.5 crore annually but would earn only close to Rs 70 lakh if he chooses to play outside India.

Dempo coach-cum-secretary Armando Colaco revealed that Kushal Das, who was one of those who backed Vaz`s suggestion, asked the clubs to submit an official proposal which would be taken up in the I-League core committee and AIFF Executive Committee.

Goan clubs have objected to an AIFF proposal to restrict the number of I-League teams emanating from Goa to five in order to give the league a more pan-Indian feel.

The owners of teams from Goa claimed that it would be pointless to stunt the growth of other teams in football-crazy areas.

Club officials in turn suggested that a stronger second division would be the best possible solution.