AIFF tries to woo I-League clubs for new tourney

New Delhi, August 1 (IANS) In their bid to persuade the I-League clubs to release their players for the new IMG-Reliance franchise-based tournament, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) Thursday said even the clubs can bid for the franchises.

"The best part is that IMG-R even wants I-League clubs to bid for the tournament. We feel this tournament is going to change the landscape of Indian football. It will be a mix of football and entertainment that will glamorise the game," AIFF senior vice-president Subrata Dutta said here Thursday.

AIFF president Praful Patel has also asked his four vice-presidents, two of whom are I-League clubs owners, to speak to the clubs within a week and persuade them to release players for the tourney which aims to glamourise Indian football, like what Indian Premier League (IPL) did to cricket.

"There won't be any major conflict. There are some areas of understanding that we haven't arrived at. We have asked our four vice-presidents to talk to the clubs and convince them to release players. In fact, two of our vice-presidents are club owners. I am sure they will be able to see it from the perspective of both the AIFF and the clubs," Patel said after IMG-R presented the plan of the tournament here.

Srinivas Dempo, who owns Dempo Sports Club, and Larsing Ming, owner of Shillong Lajong, along with K.M. Mather and Dutta will be meeting the clubs to try and convince them to release players for the Jan 18-March 30 eight city event.

Dempo admitted that he is in a tricky situation.

"We have to see from both sides of the prism. Both the sides have valid concerns and we have to talk to the clubs and discuss the issues with them," said Dempo.

Asked if he was willing to release players, Dempo said: "We have to sit down with the clubs and take a call."

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