AIFF happy with positive reaction from corporates


New Delhi: The All India Football Federation (AIFF) was Tuesday happy with the positive reaction they got from 30 interested corporate groups, who have shown interest in bidding for two new teams for the 2013-14 I-League.

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Prominent groups like Hero Motors, Sahara, GMR, Venky’s, Piramal, Dodsal Group, IL&FS, JSW, and DSK attended the Open House session at the Football House here.

AIFF president Praful Patel said it was important for all the clubs to have their own infrastructure.

“Take it from me; this initiative will help all existing clubs find partners. Clubs will fulfill the club licensing criteria which is very essential for development infrastructure and youth development. Every English Premier League club has a ground, which they call their home ground. Here no club has that.

“In Kolkata four teams use the same ground. Now with two new clubs backed by corporate bodies coming up, these issues are expected be sorted out as they will be under the club licensing criteria. All the other existing clubs will follow suit and in the process we can dream of a better League and perhaps one day compare with the best Leagues in the world,” he said.

Patel said that the AIFF will host a similar Open House in Dubai by the end of this month to attract foreign investors from Gulf and Europe. The AIFF has no objections if any of the Indian clubs want to partner an overseas club as a co-branded unit.

I-League chief executive Sunando Dhar told IANS that the AIFF was happy with the response they received from the corporates.

“Today some 30 corporates turned up for the meeting. We are happy with the response that we got from the corporates,” he said.

AIFF vice-president Subrata Dutta told IANS that the corporates were asked to fulfill two criteria — invest in infrastructure for the next five years and that they should bid for any city except from states of Goa and West Bengal.

“We told the corporates that we want clubs from north, northeast, south and western India. We also want them to invest in infrastructure for the next five years,” he said.

Sahara are interested in fielding a team from Lucknow and GMR from Hyderabad. Both Sahara and GMR own Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises in Pune and Delhi, respectively.

Abhijit Sarkar, head of corporate communications of Sahara, was all praise about the initiative.

“This is an excellent initiative from AIFF. Football needed this to grow and I am glad that it is finally happening. There is market in India for the sport which is so popular here,” he said.

The AIFF is also planning to keep the two new teams safe from relegation for the next two years.

The process of registering new teams is likely to be completed by the end of April. It will help the two new teams to recruit footballers when the transfer window opens up June 9.

Two teams – ONGC and Air India – are likely to be dropped from the I-League after they failed to fulfill the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) club licensing criteria despite repeated reminders.