With just three bids coming in for the two new I-League berths which the AIFF has put on offer, the national body has decided to keep the bidding open for a few more days for others to apply.
“We have decided to open it for a few days more, from May 22 to May 26,” said Kushal Das, the AIFF General Secretary, over telephone on Monday. The AIFF had closed the bidding period on May 15.
The national body had received an overwhelming response, with nearly 30 corporate houses including Sahara, Hero Motors and GMR, turning up for the AIFF’s open house meeting on the issue in March but when the bids came in, the response was poor.
“Actually, to be honest, there is more interest and a couple of them have written to us saying that they are also interested in bidding so we may open the bidding further for teams from other regions to also submit their bids,” said Das.
He said he expected a maximum of two new bids coming, with a possibility of one coming from Tamil Nadu and another from Delhi.
Hindustan Group drops out
Meanwhile, the Hindustan Group of institutions which was keen on bringing an I-League club to Chennai, has backed out.
“The AIFF has said that we should give a bank guarantee of Rs. 100 crores, etc which it did not tell us earlier (in the open house meeting),” said Abraham Varghese, the coach of Hindustan Eagles FC. “Also, the association was not replying to the mails I had sent. I got all the details of what the AIFF wanted from outside India. So, we have dropped our I-League plans and we are planning to enter the Second Division and qualify through that.”
The AIFF’s bid evaluation committee, which was supposed to review the bids on Tuesday, will now review them on May 27 and the new teams will be announced shortly after that. If no other party shows interest, the three current bidders — the Dubai-based Dodsal Group (which owns the Second Division side Mumbai Tigers), the steel major JSW which has bid for Bangalore and a consortium from Kerala led by Kochi’s Eagles FC — may even get a team each.
“All three could get teams,” said Das.
The new clubs of the successful bidders will not be relegated from the I-League for a period of three years but, according to the AIFF’s bid document, they will have to pay a licence fee of Rs. 3 crore for the next five years.
Now, even that could be waived. “We are open to suggestions. Some of the bidders have said that instead of putting that cash, they will invest it in developing infrastructure,” said the AIFF Secretary.