The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has requested IMG-Reliance, the organisers of the Indian Super League, to subsidize the franchise fee for Kolkata giants East Bengal and Mohun Bagan to enter the cash-rich tournament.
With the Asian football governing body AFC bent on revamping the Indian football league, a unified league remains the only way forward for 2018-19 season. Reports have suggested that the AIFF has intervened on the behalf of the two Kolkata giants and asked IMG-R to give the two clubs a concession from the franchise fee. AIFF has asked IMG-R to allow Mohun Bagan and East Bengal’s entry in ISL with payment of franchise fee in installments if not a full waiver of the original 15 CR. tag. Though unwillingly, it is being expected that IMG-R might agree to this proposal due to the sheer pressure from the fans and AIFF.
But even with the relaxation of the franchise fee, the issue that remains is the absence of sponsors for the two Kolkata clubs. One of the biggest reasons for sponsors and investors turning their backs to the clubs is the lack of long-term strategic planning according to the AIFF boss, Mr. Kushal Das. “While they have a huge fan base, they also have to realize somehow there are no investors coming. I think the whole issue is to convince the sponsors about their strategic plan for next five years. This is where I want to be — say after five years. Probably, Mohun Bagan and East Bengal have not been able to do that.” he stated.
If indeed the Kolkata clubs manage to feature in the next edition of ISL, it will be great for the sport as a whole in India. The prospect of playing in the ISL will even attract more sponsors which can come handy in developing the club’s facilities and infrastructure. A win-win for both parties, isn’t it?