I-League: AIFF hopes to rope in more than two new clubs

New Delhi, May 10 (IANS) The All India Football Federation (AIFF) is looking up to its president Praful Patel to persuade corporate houses to promote the game in the country by buying clubs to join the I-League next season.

At the request of some corporate houses, the deadline for submitting bids has been extended by five more days to May 15 from Friday.

An AIFF spokesman told IANS Friday that the the bidders have been given a little more time as the parties wanted more time to study and understand the revenue-sharing method as well as the mileage they would get by buying the clubs.

“Jindal Steel and UAE-based Indian corporate Dodsal Group seem very much interested in bidding while GMR Group, which is involved in public-private enterprises in operating airports and projects in energy, highways and urban infrastructure sectors and Trans Stadia, to name a couple of bidders, have taken the bid documents,” the spokesman told IANS.

The AIFF has been seriously trying to rope in some of these corporates to pump in huge sums to make Indian football truly professional and attractive. It wants at least two new clubs to join the league next season and it is hoping to make it three if not five it would ideally like to have in the next couple of years.

Patel, who is the union minister for heavy industries, is taking a keen interest in persuading the big industrial houses to come in a big way into football.

AIFF has set some stringent norms for the bidders, the most important being to set up infrastructure by constructing stadiums in various regions of the country and also run a youth programme. It would also like the corporates to set up academies as most of them have the resources and know-how to fulfil the requirements.

As of now the entire league is funded by the AIFF from the money it gets from its tie-up with IMG which pays the federation Rs. 31 crore a year and all the revenue accruing from the league goes to the sponsors.

The clubs have been demanding a share of the TV rights money as is the case with most football leagues around the world, but the AIFF does not think the Indian clubs would benefit much from the money right now.

The AIFF funds the clubs travel by air and also starred accommodation wherever they play. Each club, according to the spokesman, gets Rs. 60 lakh a year to hold the match and the clubs also get all other commercial rights.

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