All India Football Federation (AIFF) secretary general Shaji Prabhakaran “personally” feels that the I-League needs restructuring so that smaller clubs can survive by cutting down their players’ travel and accommodation cost.
Prabhakaran said he will propose a dialogue between the top brass and other stakeholders.
He said if the money spent on logistics is reduced, clubs with less budget will survive and that will also help in the I-League having more teams across the country.
“I-League is increasingly reaching to new geography and we need to capture new clubs, besides the old ones. The clubs should not put 80 per cent of their money to logistics. Currently, it’s only 20 per cent which is going to football, the remaining is going for logistics. It can’t be like this,” Prabhakaran told PTI.
“We have to see how we can reduce the cost of operation of clubs. The idea is not to reduce the budget, but that budget should not be used as cost for flying and for hotel. It could be used for the ground to create a better product.”
He said the AIFF should not do anything which would increase the cost of running clubs and instead work to reduce their burden.
“The clubs are putting a lot of money in the system, to manage a club is not easy. They are paying the players and their cost is only increasing. We should not do any such things that cost (of running clubs) is increasing but the return is drying up. If that happens, they will be forced to move out (of the system).
“On the other hand, if we make it easier for the clubs to run themselves by reducing cost, their number will be increased. We have to do things which leads to the clubs spending less for things not related to football.”
Prabhakaran, however, said no formal discussion has started on a possible restructuring of the I-League and it was his “personal thought at this stage”.
“This is not official yet. I can put this up to the league committee at the right time. But we should have a meeting with the clubs first. We will leave it to clubs, league committee and executive committee. We will have open discussion.
“We are spending Rs 15 to 18 crore in I-League. So, we have to ask: Is this the right format? Is this the right value the clubs, the players and other stakeholders are getting?
“If I-League grows in value, it will be easier for us to get broadcasters. Today we have to beg. It will motivate more clubs to participate in I-League.”
AIFF’s spending on Super Cup in Kerala in April “went down the drain”
Prabhakaran also made a candid assessment of the Super Cup held in Kerala in April, which saw lukewarm response from the local crowd.
“The competition committee also deliberated on this. We got reports from the ground that the teams were not interested in playing some of the games. Some of the teams came with 13 players. It was like they (clubs) have to be there so they were there.
“Cup competition has a value. We need to bring that old value in the Cup competition,” Prabhakaran said referring to the earlier Federation Cup competition.
He said the AIFF spent Rs 3.5 crore to conduct the Super Cup and wondered if the tournament was worth the money.
“Personally, this is not the way we should do, particularly as we are working in a crunch situation with small budget. Putting this much of money for a competition which has no fans and where competitiveness is missing. So we have to seriously look whether we are utilising this money for the better or not.
“We have to discuss that internally as well as with our partners. We can restructure this (tournament) which will really be value to football, fans and to the participating teams. Otherwise, this money we have put it to drain.”
Prabhakaran also said that the AIFF will announce the schedule of I-League and Indian Women’s League in July so that the clubs can plan their activities in advance.
“We want to announce I-League schedule by July. All the stakeholders will know the schedule, the teams can go to market themselves and we can get the right broadcaster. We have the league committee meeting this week and we will discuss a few things.
“IWL is a focus competition for us and this coming season, we have already eight teams and with their concurrence want to have the schedule. We will have a meeting in July.”
Asked about the recent announcement of players in the IWL having a minimum salary, Prabhakaran said, “Ten players in a team should have a minimum salary of Rs 3.2 lakh, that is the decision of the executive committee. Whether it (minimum salary) is for existing or new players, we will leave it to the clubs.”
He said the AIFF will announce “something big and exceptional” by July which can change women’s football in the country.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)