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No sign of a Kickoff

Meeting of football club officials,promoters of IPL-style league unlikely to end impasse over player participation

Written by Mihir Vasavda | Mumbai | Published: July 24, 2013 2:12 am

Amid the uncertainty over the I-League and proposed IPL-style tournament,the league’s club representatives will meet officials of IMG-Reliance and the All India Football Federation (AIFF) in Mumbai on Wednesday. However,it seems unlikely that the meeting will end the impasse over the participation of the players in the cash-rich league scheduled to be held from January to March next year.

Owners of 11 of the 14 I-League clubs met here on Tuesday under the banner of the Indian Professional Football Clubs Association (IPFCA). Even though they agreed to meet with the AIFF and IMG-R officials,the contradictory stands taken by the two parties,who have been at loggerheads for last few months,could result in the deadlock remaining in place.

IMG-R had asked for a meeting with the clubs just to ‘discuss and agree on the players loan/transfer issues so that both I-League and proposed new tournament can be conducted smoothly’. The clubs,however,have refused to release their players and insisted they were meeting IMG-R only to understand their plans for Indian football. Pune FC owner Nandan Piramal said there would be no scope for negotiation. “There’s been a lot of talk about this (proposed competition) but nothing official has been communicated to the clubs. Our main aim is to understand the future and what their plans are. We are not going to release our players,” Piramal said.

According to reports,former India captain Baichung Bhutia,ex-internationals Renedy Singh and Surkumar Singh,and current players Gouramangi Singh,Syed Rahim Nabi and Nirmal Chhetri are among the 35 players who have signed up for the tournament,which hopes to glamourise Indian football. However,none of these players play in the I-League.

ON A DEADLINE

It is learnt IMG-R have been warned by the AIFF that if they fail to come up with a concrete plan during the executive committee meeting on August 1,there’s a possibility that the 10-week slot reserved for the tournament will be revoked. Senior AIFF officials said they will be ‘forced’ to take this step as the uncertainty over IMG-R’s tournament has also affected the I-League schedule.THE AIFF,during its emergency committee meeting in May,had given its marketing partners time till June to come up with a concrete plan. “But they asked for an extension and since we didn’t hold a executive committee meeting last month,it was decided to give them more time,” the official said.

The AIFF sent out a tentative calendar to the clubs last week without any mention of the I-League,though a tentative date of September 20 has been proposed.

However,it is the 10-week window from January to March for IMG-R’s tournament that is the bone of contention. Piramal said the IPFCA will write to the AIFF about the concerns over the I-League and also request them to reconsider the break.

“January and February are the best months to play football and we are having a break during that period. The point is,if none of the I-League players are taking part in IMG-R’s tournament,then what’s the point of having the break? We will ask the AIFF to consider this while chalking out the I-League schedule,” Piramal said.

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