Houghton to stay as national coach: Patel

 All India Football Federation President Praful Patel on Friday conceded there were “certain issues” between AIFF and Bob Houghton but asserted that the Englishman remains the national coach and will guide the team in next year’s Asian Cup in Doha.
Addressing a press conference after AIFF Executive Committee meeting here, Patel termed reports of Houghton’s resignation as media speculation and said the coach would be in charge at the Asian Cup, scheduled in January next year.

“I myself spoke to Houghton a few days back and reports that he has resigned are completely baseless. He has certain issues (with the AIFF) as expressed by his agent. But that does not mean that he is no longer coach. He continues to be India coach and he will be there in the Asian Cup,” Patel said.

“The Executive Committee has authorised me to take appropriate steps (in the Houghton issue),” he added.
Patel stonewalled all queries on whether the AIFF would renew Houghton’s contract after current terms expires in January next year.
“This is something between the AIFF and Houghton. We will discuss all issues with him. The matter is between AIFF and Houghton,” he said.

Top AIFF sources said though no decision was taken on Friday on renewal of Houghton’s tenure post January 2011, there is no alternative other than giving the Englishman a new contract. However, the only question was whether the federation would agree to his demand for a hike.

“No decision was taken on Houghton’s renewal of contract, nor on the terms and conditions. AIFF president himself will discuss the matter with Houghton and sort out the issue,” a top source told PTI.

In another important decision, the AIFF decided to give contracts starting from next month to 30 players chosen for the Asian Cup preparations with a hike of 15 per cent.
“We have decided to give contracts to 30 probables for the Asian Cup. They will be given salary on pro-rata basis with 15 per cent hike from their existing contract amount for the eight months from June to January next year,” the AIFF chief said.
The Executive Committee also decided to include under-19 national side as one of the I-League teams from the next season starting in September and AIFF would give them contracts besides also appointing a foreign coach for them.

Asked about Mahindra United’s withdrawal from the I-League from next season, Patel said, “It was unfortunate that Mahindra decided to withdraw. We could not have done anything in this regard. They had given an official communication yesterday.”
Patel said I-League would be reformatting from next season with a few corporate houses likely to field their teams though he did not commit on whether the top-flight league will have 16 sides or not. “Major corporate houses are showing interest in the I-League and I am sure that from next season it will be much improved.”
It also decided to shift Santosh Trophy from Goa to Kolkata and will be held in July.
PTI

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