The still unnamed IPL-style football tournament, which is scheduled start in January next year, will help in bringing back viewers and investment to Indian football, said the All India Football Federation president Praful Patel on Saturday.
“We need more viewers and more investment in Indian football and the new tournament is a step in that direction,” Mr. Patel, who is also the Union Heavy Industries Minister, said while attending the AGM of Calcutta Chamber of Commerce.
“When you start something new there will be some roadblocks. Things will settle down once the tournament starts,” the AIFF president said hinting at the resistance of the I-League clubs, who have condemned the new tournament. According to the AIFF officials the auctions for the new franchises and players for the IPL-style tournament will be held between October 30 and November 5.
The president said that the new tournament will not hamper the prospect of the I-League, which will continue to remain the premier club tournament of the country. “I-League is the most important tournament of the country and there should be no doubts about that,” Mr. Patel said.
When asked why there is no proper marketing of the I-league, the AIFF president said that the National body has been repeatedly asking this to its marketing rights holder – IMG-Reliance. “Let’s not be overtly critical but we have expressed our concern time and again to our marketing rights holder (IMG-reliance),” he said. The AIFF president said that things will be better now that the I-League has a sponsor (Airtel) and also a telecaster (Ten Action) while the National also has gained a patron (ONGC).
“Next year the I-League will be bigger, better and stronger,” the AIFF president said when he was asked about the pulling out of the Mumbai Tigers, that has reduced the current tournament to a 13-team affair.
The AIFF president informed that the national body has prepared the bid document for the under-17 World Cup in accordance with the requirements and expected the tournament to be awarded to India. “I have spoken to both FIFA president (Sepp Blatter) and secretary (Jerome Valcke) and I hope the world body will look objectively into our bid,” Mr. Patel said.
The Calcutta Chamber of Commerce felicitated 19-year-old boxer Shiva Thapa, who recently became youngest Indian to win a gold medal in Asian Confederation Boxing Championship in Amman, Jordan.