The financial future of the Indian football is facing big roadblocks what with the national federation and its commercial and marketing rights holder, IMG-Reliance not seeing eye to eye.
The Federation Cup football, being held simultaneously at Silliguri (West Bengal) and Jamshedpur (Jharkhand), has brought this widening chasm to light.
The national body — the All India Football Federation (AIFF) — finds itself in a bind after IMG-Reliance failed to secure television rights even after promising the availability of one.
The AIFF senior vice-president Subrata Dutta announced here that TEN Sports — whom IMG Reliance had confirmed as a television rights holder for the Fed Cup and also the ensuing the I-League — had backed out putting the national body in a fix.
The intervention of AIFF president and the Union Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises,Praful Patel, ensured that the Federation Cup is televised from the semifinal stage.
The National broadcaster Doordarshan has now stepped in and will telecast live the matches. This arrangement apparently was made outside the agreement as in the ideal situation it is the responsibility of IMG-Reliance to ensure telecast rights.
No one from the IMG-Reliance was available for comment on the issue but it was unofficially made known that the AIFF top brass is cut up with the evident “reluctance” of IMG-Reliance to market the sport.
The 15-year marketing rights agreement between AIFF and IMG-Reliance is hardly two years old but many of the senior functionaries of the national federation feel that IMG-Reliance is “destroying football’s marketability by its unfeeling attitude.”
The AIFF is regularly getting the promised yearly contribution of Rs. 40 crore from IMG-Reliance but the latter’s apparent disinterest in not using its “full potential” in marketing the sport is bothering the national federation.
The IMG-Reliace has now gone back on its decision of introducing an IPL-style football tournament. The tournament, which was supposed to be held early next year, is now postponed till September next year.
Even then there is hardly any initiative from IMG-Reliance which could see the realisation of the mega-budget franchise based tournament in future, says a senior AIFF official.
The AIFF in its recent executive committee meeting amended a law allowing clubs or franchises to have unlimited number of players on loan. This was essentially made to accommodate the proposed IPL-style tournament.
“It is quite intriguing that a big company with wide experience of hosting major events cannot generate enough revenue for football in a country which is considered the biggest market of the sport by the world body FIFA,” says a senior official of AIFF.
In such a situation many in the AIFF are even thinking of applying the exit clause in the contract to seek new partners with a more positive attitude.