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FIFA warning for Indian Leagues merger: AIFF in no hurry

FIFA warning for Indian Leagues merger: AIFF in no hurry

Press Releases

Published: 6 April 2018 7:40 AM GMT
The 17-page report, authored and submitted by Alex Philips of AFC and Nic Coward, a FIFA consultant, recommended to the AIFF, a merger with the 2 football leagues in the country, the Indian Super League, and I-League, from 2019-20 season onwards. The report also recommends an expanded football league with 16 teams no later than 2022-23, with the bottom two teams being relegated. AIFF general secretary Kushal Das recently said that AIFF is in no rush to merge the leagues, but the report is likely to change that. The report, however, highlights an important clause and that is 'A continental ban on Indian clubs will be imposed if the AIFF is unable to implement a unified league structure from the 2019-20 season.' The news of a merger between the 2 leagues had come about earlier in September (2017) when Alex Philips and Nic Coward had toured India. Their objective was to research the market and the state of the Indian leagues and prepare a draft on the merger of the 2 leagues, along with a clear roadmap for Indian Football. The All India Football Federation (AIFF) may well have to step up on their implementation of a unified league in the country based on this report, acting under the authority of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and F d ration Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). The report primarily requires the AIFF to structure the league with 12 teams ' 10 teams from the existing ISL roster and the winner of the I-League in the 2018-19 season. The 2
team may not necessarily be the runner-up from the I-League and could be chosen through an open tender. The proposed roadmap for Indian football also asks for a clear growth for ISL. The report may bring about a lot of complications to the current agreements in place with ISL clubs. Mainly it wants to re-look at the '10-year immunity from relegation' for clubs and the 15-year deal between the AIFF and IMG-Reliance (whose part is carried out by Football Sports Development Ltd) signed in 2010. ALSO READ: The jump from being a footballer to becoming a referee is a little unconventional
This clause will be a direct contradiction with the ISL clubs initial agreement, but the plan states that the clubs need to work their way around this by stopping the payment of franchise fees once the relegation system is implemented. The ISL teams currently pay between '12-14 crores per season. The proposed unified league will also subjugate the clubs to pay a fee, undecided as of now. Once the foundational league structure is in place, the report has recommended the unified league to have 16 teams by 2022-23 season by adding two teams every season. Once the league has 16 teams, the Philips and Coward report recommends the implementation of a relegation system with the bottom two going down. The report also admonished the rule of 'One City One Club' from the ISL. This will allow the likes of Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, and ATK to simultaneously play in the unified league. There is also a proposal for a 2
division league to consist of 16 teams, where the winner of the 2nd division will gain an automatic promotion. The AIFF will have all the rights to a cup competition whose winners will get a berth in the AFC Cup, Asia's second-tier club tournament. If the unified league is in place, this could be the birth of a 'Football Revolution' that's been waiting to happen. A single league consisting of legacy and new teams playing together. Improvised television rights and probably shared pooling of monies. This may also create an improvised format without scheduling woes, having matches on the weekend which would garner more public to the stadiums. Matchday revenues, season tickets, home crowd and away crowd sections with team and player jingles are all the things that we can look up to.
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