AIFF to talk to I-League teams about new format

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) on Tuesday will discuss with I-League clubs the proposed new format of the tournament, that is likely to be overhauled on the lines of America’s Major League Soccer (MLS) from the 2012-2013 season.

AIFF general secretary Kushal Das held a meeting with the federation’s marketing partner IMG-Reliance here on Monday and felt the feedback from the clubs was important before planning a complete overhaul of the I-League from the next season.

“Today we met with officials from IMG-Reliance and felt we need to rope in the clubs. We will meet all the I-League clubs on Tuesday before planning the I-League,” Das told IANS. 

The AIFF is planning to make the league more entertaining and attract more eyeballs. The cash-rich league is expected to be a two-tier championship involving 16 teams.

The plan has been mooted by IMG-Reliance, who bought the telecast and marketing rights of the AIFF in 2010 by signing a 15-year agreement worth Rs 700 crore, one of the most lucrative deals in Indian sports. 

According to the proposed plan, the teams will be divided into two groups of eastern and western conferences with the top clubs from each zone playing in the second tier to decide the title.

Earlier this month, the 12 I-League clubs, barring Pailan Arrows and HASC, met in Mumbai had  requested the AIFF and IMG-Reliance to discuss issues plaguing the league.  The AIFF is likely to address the issues related to a tighter schedule and better packaging by host broadcaster, Ten Sports.

The AIFF has a budget of Rs 15 crore for the league and under the proposed plan it can cut down its expenses and can invest it in the U-19 I-League. I-League teams are currently enjoying a break with the National team, gearing up for the Asian Football Confederations Challenge Cup to be held in Kathmandu, Nepal.

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