AIFF secretary general wants restructuring of I-League to ensure survival of smaller clubs

New Delhi: All India Football Federation (AIFF) secretary general Shaji Prabhakaran “personally” feels that the I-League needs restructuring so that smaller clubs can survive by cutting down their players’ travel and accommodation cost.

Prabhakaran said he will propose a dialogue between the top brass and other stakeholders.

He said if the money spent on logistics is reduced, clubs with less budget will survive and that will also help in the I-League having more teams across the country.

“I-League is increasingly reaching to new geography and we need to capture new clubs, besides the old ones. The clubs should not put 80 per cent of their money to logistics. Currently, it’s only 20 per cent which is going to football, the remaining is going for logistics.

It can’t be like this,” Prabhakaran told PTI. “We have to see how we can reduce the cost of operation of clubs. The idea is not to reduce the budget, but that budget should not be used as cost for flying and for hotel. It could be used for the ground to create a better product.”

He said the AIFF should not do anything which would increase the cost of running clubs and instead work to reduce their burden. The clubs are putting a lot of money in the system, to manage a club is not easy. They are paying the players and their cost is only increasing. We should not do any such things that cost (of running clubs) is increasing but the return is drying up. If that happens, they will be forced to move out (of the system).”

“On the other hand, if we make it easier for the clubs to run themselves by reducing cost, their number will be increased. We have to do things which leads to the clubs spending less for things not related to football.”

Prabhakaran, however, said no formal discussion has started on a possible restructuring of the I-League and it was his “personal thought at this stage”.

“This is not official yet. I can put this up to the league committee at the right time. But we should have a meeting with the clubs first. We will leave it to clubs, league committee and executive committee. We will have open discussion. We are spending Rs 15 to 18 crore in I-League. So, we have to ask: Is this the right format? Is this the right value the clubs, the players and other stakeholders are getting?”

“If I-League grows in value, it will be easier for us to get broadcasters. Today we have to beg. It will motivate more clubs to participate in I-League.”