I-League kicks off without title sponsor, TV coverage
For the first time in 14 years, the national football league, reincarnated as the I-league in 2006, will kick-off Friday without a title sponsor and television coverage.
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has invited bids for telecast rights for the 2010-11 season and newly-appointed general secretary Kushal Das said it will take another two-three days to seal the deal.
"We are working hard to finalise the deal. We won't be able to telecast the first couple of matches, but we shall be able to go live from the third or the fourth match," Das told IANS.
Two Kolkata channels -- Kolkata TV and Channel 10 -- have made a joint bid while another Bengali channel -- 24 Ghanta -- is also in the fray.
Das also said that the AIFF is also looking for a title sponsor. State oil major Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), which has been sponsoring the league for quiet some time, pulled out after the last edition.
Asked, if the prize money would be decreased, Das said: "No, the prize money won't be reduced. We will have a title sponsor soon."
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and International Management Group (IMG) Worldwide are also eyeing to become marketing and telecast partners of the AIFF.AIFF had terminated their 10-year telecast and marketing rights deal with Zee Sports with four years to run out as it felt the coverage and publicity was inadequate.
AIFF has also approached major industrial houses like Jindal Steel and Videocon to sponsor the I-League. Sanjay Jindal, managing director of JSW Steel, has been appointed as the chairman of the I-League committee and Venugopal Dhoot, chairman of Videocon Industries, as the deputy chairman