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AIFF chief's proposed new competition hits roadblock

AIFF chiefs proposed new competition   hits roadblock
All India Football Federation (AIFF) President Praful Patel's proposed new competition involving top four teams from the I-League and Indian Super League (ISL) might not see the light of the day.

"Yes, it is difficult to accommodate three leagues in the calendar keeping in mind national team commitments next year," a top official said on Wednesday.

India would be taking part in the SAFF Championship next year from May 1-12 and before that national team coach Stephen Constantine is likely to hold a preparation camp.

The domestic season is expected to start from the third week of November and run till April, as has been discussed in the AIFF executive committee meeting held in Mumbai last week.

According to Patel's proposal, top eight teams from both the leagues will play in a separate competition from where the top two teams will play in the AFC Champions League play-offs and the AFC Cup. But for that to happen, a minimum of 14 matches needs to be played among the eight sides.

It has been learnt that Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) — the organisers of the ISL — is also not with the AIFF on this proposal. If the top four teams take part in the proposed new competition, I-League clubs will get a shot at representing Asia from India without paying the franchise fee, a sum ISL clubs will have to cough up.

This has been a bone of contention and thus the idea has not gone down well with the organisers of the cash-rich ISL. Patel, in a meeting with Kolkata giants East Bengal and Mohun Bagan in New Delhi last week, had promised them of equal mileage in terms of television coverage in the I-League as well. East Bengal and Mohun Bagan have maintained that they won't be part of the ISL as they would not pay the franchise fee of Rs 15 crore. The two clubs had also demanded that they should be use Kolkata as their home base. The issue of using Kolkata as a home base by Mohun Bagan and East Bengal have grave implications for Atletico de Kolkata — the current ISL representatives from the city — as it will mean that their support base in football-crazy West Bengal will disappear overnight. The ISL has announced the two new teams — a Tata Steel outfit from Jamshedpur and JSW-owned Bengaluru FC — last Monday, virtually closing the door on the traditional heavyweights.
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