Players’ contract discussion with AIFF on Tuesday

Updated: May 31, 2010, 20:35 PM IST

New Delhi: The AIFF will meet with the players tomorrow to discuss the tricky contract issue and set the ball rolling for its ambitious ‘Goal 2011’ project for the preparations of the Asian Cup next January.

A select 30 players will be given contract by the AIFF with 15 per cent hike in their existing salary with their clubs on pro-rata basis for eight months. They will train under national coach Bob Houghton exclusively for January 7-29 Asian Cup in Doha.

The national players, including captain Bhaichung Bhutia, will meet the AIFF top brass tomorrow to discuss the contract issue.

Sources in the AIFF said the federation has kept ready the modalities of the contract of each player but it will have to be seen whether some of them, who have signed new club contracts recently with double or triple of their last year’s salary, will accept it or not.

“Some players like Mohammad Rafi, Steven Dias or Arindam Bhattacharya have made huge gains in their contracts with new clubs. So they naturally would ask for a contract with the AIFF based on their new contract. But many others have their contracts continuing with little hike. So there could be huge difference among the players in salary from AIFF if the existing contract rule applies,” a top AIFF source told reporters.

“Moreover, there could be a sort of grading of the players with a few getting more salary than others,” he added.

Coach Houghton, whose demand for extension of contract beyond January 2011 is yet to be sorted out, is not expected to be involved in the negotiations between the AIFF and the players.

The issue of the players’ contract will be handled by AIFF vice-president Subrata Dutta and general secretary Alberto Colaco and a final approval will be given by president Praful Patel.

After the contract issue of the national players are over, India’s under-19 footballers, who would be fielded as a Delhi-based team in the I-League season starting September, will come at the AIFF headquarters here for their contract discussions on June 5.

The federation has selected the players for the team to be called AIFF XI but their names have not been announced yet.

Houghton has recommended the name of current Philippines national side coach Desmond Bulpin as coach for the AIFF XI and the federation will discuss it in their executive committee meeting in June.

Meanwhile, a section of the AIFF has strongly pitched for keeping Shillong Lajong and Sporting Clube-de-Goa in the I-League though they finished 13th and 14th in the just-concluded season.

Under AIFF rules, the last two I-League finishers get relegated while two top teams from the second division are promoted.

With no new corporate teams coming this year to make the I-League a 16-team affair and in view of the success story of Shillong Lajong in terms of public support, a section of the AIFF wants to waive the relegation rule this year though a final decision will be taken in next month’s executive committee meeting.