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Football & India: Part 2

The concluding part of how Indian football is in a mess.

January 19, 2017
By Markus Spiske via

By Markus Spiske via


The AIFF has setup a new format in place. It will see the ISL become the official Indian league; that you know. Below it, will be the present I-League. Below it, will be the present I-League 2nd Division.

Now, this is the best part. There will be no relegation in the ISL league. NO RELEGATION. Apparently, the franchise owners have paid, and relegating them is not something the AIFF can do.

There WILL be relegation for the I-League, and promotion for the 2nd Division. Both will have 10 teams each.

The Federation Cup will become the Super Cup. Of course, it will favor the ISL league, with all of its teams playing, and only four top teams from the I League, and playoffs for the others.

That’s wrong…right?

Among other things. We have tried to explain here why making the ISL anything bigger is a bad idea. That’s just the practical part. Why the hell are the ISL teams not being relegated? No league, apart from Australia’s A-League follows a system like that. (And as this excellent Zee News report will tell you, it is in a proper mess)

Aren’t our I-League clubs angry?

You bet they are.

In recent weeks, Dempo, Salgaocar and Sporting Club de Goa, three prominent Goan clubs that formed the spine of Indian football, pulled out of the 2016-17 I-League season in protest against the proposed restructuring of the domestic leagues.


The letter from Dempo to AIFF, says, among other things:

Considering the high cost of fielding and maintaining a team in the I-League and the uncertainty regarding the reorganization of the competition, the Promoters of the Dempo Group of Companies and the management of the club have decided that it will not be worthwhile to make the considerable additional investment required to field a team in the I-League. Therefore, with great regret, we wish to inform you that we will not field a team in the forthcoming I-League (2016-17).


What is the AIFF doing?

It isn’t wooing them back, for one.

New Delhi: The All India Football Federation (AIFF) will seek fresh tenders for clubs aspiring to be part of I-League 2016-17 as it evaluated bids from three interested parties following the withdrawal of Sporting Clube de Goa from the league.

Kushal Das, general secretary, AIFF, said, “It’s truly heartening to see these three clubs, that too from different states across the nation, showing their enthusiasm to play in the Hero I-League. This actually highlights that we’re heading towards a bright future of Indian Football, involving every nook and corner of the country.”

Referring to the decision of Sporting Clube de Goa to officially pull out from the next I-League, Das called it “very unfortunate and sad”.


They have even shifted the blame.

“If FC Goa (the ISL club) can manage a full house for every match, then why is it that not even 100 people turn up to watch these legacy clubs?” an AIFF official fumed.

It’s a thought-provoking question. But the AIFF cannot claim innocense. That Dempo too decided to pull out, given that their owner is an AIFF vice-president, speaks volumes of the state of affairs.

[Indian Express]

That’s a point, no?

Sort of. Here’s the counterpoint.

If the marketing and organizational responsibility was with AIFF, how can clubs be blamed?” asks Sporting Clube de Goa president Peter Vaz.


To emphasize that point:

I vividly experienced the absence of proper marketing of the I-League during my several stints as a commentator to various cities. In January 2015, when we went to Goa for commentary, it was noticeable that there were only banners and posters featuring the ISL even when it had got over in December 2014. Except for the print media there was no promotion of the I-League. The 36th Hero Federation Cup held in two venues in Goa in December 2014 and January 2015 received negligible promotion. Even uplinking facilities for telecast of matches were not completed. The first three matches in which I did commentary at the Tilak Maidaan Vasco and the Nehru Stadium, Margao were not shown live on Ten Sports as there were no uplinking facilities.


Has an Indian club ever shut down? Just asking.

The casualties amongst I-League clubs have been huge. So many famous clubs that had rendered yeoman service to football and had been successful, like JCT (NFL champion in 1997), Mahindra United (NFL champion in 2005), Pune FC (noted for its long term development programmes), Royal Wahingdoh and Rangdajied United (Shillong) and now the three Goa clubs, Dempo, Salgaocar and Sporting Clube de Goa, have withdrawn. All these clubs had a rich history and tradition and it would have been better if the AIFF had patiently heard their grievances and tried persuading them to persist.

Um…can I know the situation in China?


The Chinese Super League was created by the rebranding of the former top division Chinese Football Association Jia-A League in 2004. (see Chinese Jia-A League, not to be confused with Chinese Football Association Jia League, which is the current second tier league.)

Originally contested by 12 teams in the inaugural year, the league has been expanding. There are 16 teams in the current season.


Below the Chinese Super League, where Oscar & Hulk exist, we have the China League One. Among other teams in it, Beijing Renhe signed up West Ham forward Nikica Jelavic, last year; this year, Sven-Göran Eriksson, former manager of the England national team (2001-06) is managing Shenzhen FC. Below it, there is the China League Two. Below them, there is the China Amateur Football League. Forget the outlandish money; it will do a Makachakala and disappear, sooner or later. But in theory, a club can jump four divisions and compete in the first division of the country. Something which even happened here, when a club from the 3rd division of the Shillong Premier League made its way to the I-League, and finished 3rd. All this in a span of 8 years, and because the owners loved it. But even they had to leave the I-League, because of rising costs.


Yes. In short, we are screwed.

About the author: Hitesh Shetty
Dreams of writing a bestseller and changing the world. When awake, tries to figure out how to do both. | Get Tech Addicted...
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