IMG-Reliance’s decision to put off the proposed IPL-style Indian Super League (ISL) by almost a year has left the national body — All India Football Federation (AIFF) — red faced. AIFF officials, who are part of the executive, have been discussing the consequences of the move, which is likely to erode its credentials.

“AIFF will be blamed for the fiasco as it is the parent body. If something goes wrong in the family, the head of the family is always hauled up,” said an AIFF functionary preferring to remain anonymous.

The AIFF officials have refrained from openly criticising IMG-R’s move as the federation president Praful Patel had been instrumental in bringing in the Rs. 700-crore agreement.

Many in the AIFF feel the national body has been taken for granted as the decision to postpone the tournament has actually been taken “unilaterally” though the AIFF was officially made a part of it.

IMG-R, which holds all the marketing rights of AIFF for 15 years since December 2010, had been promoting the new franchise-based tournament to open up a new horizon in Indian football. But a release from the company barely one day back announced the postponement of the tournament till September next year, dousing the hopes of the players and the officials related to the tournament.

A section of AIFF officials feel its marketing partner failed to ensure the right mix of marquee names from the international market that could be put up in the bidding process, which was slated to begin at the end of this month.

“The tournament was decided well in advance and the AIFF allotted a window in the national calendar much to their (IMG-R) liking. Despite all this, they are postponing the tournament citing a development in the overseas market over the last two weeks,” said a senior AIFF official. “Are we not to assume by this that there is lack of cohesion and understanding in their (IMG-R and its broadcast partner STAR India) very own functioning. What was the need for the colossal waste of time, energy and money invested in numerous meetings and discussions for over a year,” he asked. The AIFF is now in a fix about the nearly 60 players who were contracted by IMG-R for the proposed ISL.

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