AIFF decides to form working group on I-League-ISL merger!
After much talk and discussion, the All India Football Federation today held a meeting with I-League club officials and the chief promoters of Indian Super League - IMG-Reliance and Star Sports, with the result of the meeting being to create a working group to look into the merger of the I-League and Indian Super League.
No I-League club official wanted to come on record with what they thought about the meeting, but it was evident from rumours and unofficial statements that the I-League clubs had hoped to hear from the AIFF about solutions ahead of the 2016 I-League with the threat of pullout from Pune FC and Bharat FC still on the cards.
AIFF president Praful Patel said, "We are working towards one entity in future - the I-League clubs and the ISL. A working group will be formed, about nine members, to work out the way."
Patel informed that the I-League-ISL merger cannot be done overnight and many more interactions were due to take place before a final blueprint for a joint league is put in place and said, "Many more discussions have to take place among the working group, among whom will be I-League club representatives, people from IMG-R and AIFF members."
"I-League is India's main league. The Indian Super League may be called a league, but is in fact a tournament, like the Rovers Cup," while adding, "there is naturally anxiety in I-League clubs about the future, we are aware. We are aware of low attendance due to matches timed at 3pm and other issues."
He also maintained that the success of the ISL in its inaugural season last year had trickled down to the I-League attendances too. "There has been a positive spillover effect of ISL on I-League attendances. The interest in football is getting bigger, corporates are ready to get involved now."
"The ISL has been a reasonable success in the first year and is getting better. Foreign players signed for the second season are getting younger."