IMG-R league auctions delayed till October-end

New Delhi, Sep 27 (IANS) The much-awaited players and franchise auctions of the IMG-Reliance football league will be held by the end of October.

The auctions were scheduled for September but had to be postponed after the I-League clubs refused to release their players for the eight-team tournament that would be held between Jan 18 and March 30. The tournament is on the lines of cricket's Indian Premier League (IPL), also managed by IMG. IMG-R have a contract with the AIFF to run the event for 12 years.

"The IMG-R league will have two auctions; first for the franchisees and then for the players and both will be held between Oct 25 and Nov 5," an official said here Friday. "Twenty corporates have already expressed their interest."

The organisers still need to finalise the eight cities. They have already shortlisted nine cities -- Guwahati, Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Goa, Bangalore, Chennai and Kochi -- out of which one will be dropped.

"All matches will be played in the evening under the floodlights but still lot of infrastructure work needs to be done," said the official.

"Rental negotiations are going on and we are closing in on the final deal," the official added.

The IMG-R league ran into trouble sometime back as I-League clubs decided not to release players for the new league.

The Indian Professional Football Clubs Association (IPFCA), the union of I-League clubs, said that the clubs will not release players nor sign any player, who has a contract with IMG-Reliance.

However, after many discussions both party have more or less agreed on a middle ground.

Eight clubs, 176 players, 72 overseas stars and 10 weeks of packed action -- that is how the All India Football Federation's (AIFF) commercial partner IMG-Reliance plans to glamourise Indian football early next year.

Each team will have 10 foreign, including a minimum of one marquee player, seven Indians and four U-21 players. Some of the world's top footballers -- David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Michael Owen and Raul Gonzalez -- could be seen in action in the tournament.

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