Raising concerns about the shutting down of two I-League clubs Mahindra United and JCT,and the lack of a proper financial structure in professional soccer in India,the 12 I-League clubs have in a quest to safeguard their interests,decided to float the Indian Professional Football Clubs Association (IPFCA). HAL and Pailan Arrows have however decided not to join the association.
The club-owners were quick to reveal though that the IPFCA wasn’t a rebel faction and would in fact work in tandem with the AIFF and its marketing partner IMG Reliance to make Indian football more sustainable. They did,however,insist on standing by their steadfast refusal to sign the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) licensing criteria unless the AIFF for starters makes the I-League a separate legal entity. Interestingly,this is one of the clauses in the AFC norms.
“The investment of each club on an average is 15 crores per year,but even if we happen to win every single tournament there is in the country,which is quite implausible,all we can earn is two crores,” said senior Mohun Bagan official Debashish Dutta.
Having waited for 15 months since IMG were roped in as the marketing partners,the club scions believed that it was high time for the AIFF to make them equal stakeholders as far as the I-League was concerned. “For that to happen we need to be detached from the other tournaments like the Federation Cup and the IFA Shield that are run by the AIFF,” said Shivanand Salgaocar,owner of one of the three Goan clubs in the league.
“A sustainable model will also encourage new professional clubs to join the fray. The costs of running these clubs are burgeoning with each day,and for how long can we pump in funds with no returns,” explained Piramal. Added Salgaocar, “Passion (for football) alone cannot drive the clubs. We can’t go on like this and are concerned that more clubs may follow Mahindra United and JCT.”