Not all I-League clubs opposed to IMG-R tournament: Bhutia

Mumbai, Aug 13 (IANS) Former India football captain Bhaichung Bhutia maintained that all I-League clubs are not opposed to the IPL-style football tournament promoted by IMG-Reliance and All India Football Federation (AIFF).

While the I-League Professional Football Clubs Association (IPFCA) are up in arms against the new eight-team franchise-based tournament, Bhutia feels only a few are against it.

"I don't think amongst the I-League clubs, everybody is against it. I have been into the meetings as well. Yes, there are one or two I-League clubs that call the shots. It is very unfair," said Bhutia, who is the chairman of AIIF's technical committee.

Bhutia during an interaction at IMG-R training camp here at the Cooperage also said all clubs are not properly represented by IPFCA at its meeting. Bhutia was also joined by Bollywood star John Abraham and the duo had a small training session with the players.

"In the I-League Clubs Association (IPFCA) meet, we don't have the real owners coming in and meeting. We don't have the Dempos and the Alemaos coming. So it is represented by few people who I think have got very limited knowledge sometimes," said Bhutia.

Bhutia said that I-League clubs like Prayag United, who are struggling to build team, will benfit by signing up IMG-R players.

"We need to look at the larger picture. So there are a lot of clubs who are still struggling. If Prayag United can make a team and get some players (from IMG-Reliance), they would be happy to do so. But because they have formed an association (IPFCA) and they have put a 'diktat' from few people, they also can't sign. So it is very unfair," he said.

Bhutia, who owns relegated Sikkim United, said the smaller clubs will be badly affected with IPFCA's decision of not signing IMG-R players.

"Teams like Ar-hima (Rangdajied United) who have just come into the I-League, they are a young team and have come into the I-League after so much of struggle. You don't want them to be relegated next season. I think the clubs have to realise that there are a few people who are making those decisions in the clubs association," he said.

Bhutia said the new tournament is for the benefit of Indian football and will boost the I-League.

"They have to realise that the new tournament is for the betterment of Indian football. If the I-League continues this way, everybody is going to struggle which we have already seen in the case of the Mahindras and JCT," he said.

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