The All India Football Federation has named a six-member committee to meet to I-League Professional Football Clubs Association (IPFCA) within the next week to try and sort out their differences over the IPL-style franchise-based football tournament to be organised by IMG-Reliance for the Federation.
The AIFF will be represented by Subrata Dutta, Shrinivas Dempo, K.M.I. Mather, Larsing Sawyan (all AIFF vice-presidents), Kushal Das (general secretary) and Sunanda Dhar (I-League CEO).
Meanwhile, at the AIFF headquarters, IMG-R presented its plan to hold the league from January 18 to March 30 next year. The competition will feature teams from eight cities. Every city will have one icon, nine foreign, eight national and four locally scouted footballers in its side.
Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Pune, Kochi, Hyderabad, Guwahati and a Goan city are in contention to host the franchise teams. Interestingly, it was decided at the meeting to allow I-League clubs to bid for franchises.
Of the eight icon footballers, four names are expected to be announced before the teams are auctioned. The rest will be announced once the teams are identified. The final list of foreign footballers will be made available in October, and it will be followed by auctions in November.
IMG-R also plans to rope in Bollywood superstars as brand ambassadors for the league while regional celebrities will be approached to popularise the franchises in their respective cities.
In addition to 20 players from the I-League developmental side Pailan Arrows, IMG-R claimed it has signed 37 Indian players. Of the already acquired national players, Syed Nabi, Nirmal Chhetri, Gouramangi Singh, Subrata Paul are currently involved with the Indian team.
The 57 players will undergo a four-week camp in Mumbai this month. The footballers will train under the supervision of head coach Trevor Morgan, assistant Arshad Hussain and goalkeeping coach Debasish Mukherjee.
After the meeting, AIFF president Praful Patel labelled the league as a “booster dose” for Indian football, and said he expected it to increase the popularity of the sport in the country.
Though next year’s tournament will be held during a two-and-a-half month break in the I-League, Patel added that the IMG-R league will be organised before or after the I-League in the future.