IMG-R to reveal IPL-style football plans to AIFF on Thursday

New Delhi: The final contours of the much-anticipated IPL-style football tournament is expected to be unveiled by IMG-Reliance, the commercial partners of the All India Football Federation, before the Executive Committee of the AIFF in a crucial meeting here on Thursday.

The International Management Group-Reliance (IMG-R) is expected to give a detailed presentation of the tournament proposed to be held between January and March next year with eight city-based franchise teams taking part in it.

"We will make a detailed presentation about the proposed tournament before the Executive Committee of AIFF. We will also present the AIFF how we are going to execute our plans like appointment of technical committee for the tournament," an IMG-R source said.

"We will give details of how we would market the tournament. Basically we want to improve the profile of Indian football, take the game to the masses, including at the grass-root level," he said.

Tomorrow`s meeting could also see the IMG-R revealing the names of the marquee players, which may include some current or just retired international stars, if some reports are to be believed.

IMG-R has reportedly signed 37 Indian players, including the former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia and current players Gouramangi Singh and Syed Rahim Nabi, but have not revealed the international players they plan to rope in, even though some reports have suggested that the likes of David Beckham, Michael Owen and Raul Gonzales could feature in the league.

Some other reports even suggested that former World Footballer of the Year Ronaldinho and star Brazil and current Real Madrid midfielder Kaka are likely to play in the league.

"The IMGR has already signed up some of the biggest names in world football who will be the marquee players for the eight franchises," AIFF senior vice-president Subrata Dutta was quoted as saying by `Gulf News`.

The meeting, to be chaired by AIFF President Praful Patel, is being held at the backdrop of I-League clubs, under the umbrella of Indian Professional Football Clubs Association, refusing to release players for the league.

Many in the AIFF are also eager to know the final details of the proposed tournament though the IMG-R has made presentations earlier.

"Tomorrow`s presentation is not going to be the first time. The IMG-R has made presentations earlier also. But we want to know the details about the tournament. We want to know where this tournament stands in terms of football development in the country," an official, who will attend tomorrow`s meeting, said.

"It`s good that we may know something concrete from the IMG-R. We also know the position the clubs have been taking so far. This would be the main issue in the meeting and I think members would express their views and make comments about the league tomorrow," he said.

Besides the IPL-style league issue, the meeting will also decide the date of the General Body Meeting of the AIFF to amend its constitution as per the Sports Code on the directives of the Sports Ministry.

The AIFF Emergency Committee in its meeting on May 28 had unanimously decided to make amendments to its constitution as per the directives of the Sports Ministry in regard to age and tenure of its top office bearers.

The issue of I-League second division sides bearing the cost of the qualifying round tournament, which was proposed in the Emergency Committee meeting in May, will also be discussed with some teams expressing lack of funds to do so.

Bangalore-based side South United had pulled out of the second division I-League citing lack of funds to take part in the qualifying round.

The meeting will also take a final decision on the calendar as the I-League schedule has not been finalised yet due to the IPL-style football issue. If the IMG-R league goes ahead, there will have to be a gap of at least one and half months in the I-League schedule to accommodate it.

The May 28 meeting of the AIFF Emergency Committee had also proposed a conference-style I-League from the coming season which, however, has been rejected by the clubs. The Executive Committee is likely to take a final decision on this issue. The clubs have expressed their view to continue the earlier format.

Tomorrow`s meeting will also discuss on the contours of a Disciplinary Code of players proposed to implement by the AIFF.


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