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Sunday, 15 April 2012

I-League: How to Move Forward

I’m going to keep this brief. This is only concerned with the top tier of Indian football…

1.       The IPL model followed by cricket is fatally flawed and is not the answer
2.       Elements of the IPL are however, part of the solution
a.       The focus on ‘entertainment’ stretching beyond just the sport and the match
b.      The focus on ‘glamour’ and ‘personality’ and ‘celebrity’ (India IS different)
c.       The need for modern consumer-friendly, family-oriented, stadia
3.       The English Premier League provides the most relevant model for a foundation
a.       The forming of an Association by the clubs is a positive step forward
b.      The clubs should own the I-League and take more control over their own destiny
c.       IMG & Reliance can be powerful, capable and important partners/enablers
4.       The I-League should consist of between 18 and 20 teams
5.       Existing teams should be invited to be part of the new I-League
6.       Key cities without an established I-League club – Bangalore, Hyderabad, Delhi etc – should be offered to tender
a.       Existing clubs can bid
b.       New corporate owners can bid
c.       The selection criteria to choose the winner will be the merit of the business plan and the quality of the management
d.      There would be no ‘franchises’ or franchise fees: the corporate owns the club (subject to fulfilling the promised investment and other commitments)
7.       Membership for ALL clubs should be conditional upon meeting a set of criteria within a given timeframe:
a.        Professional management and administration
b.        The introduction of community programs (to build support)
c.        The development of Academies
d.       The development of new purpose built, revenue generating stadiums
e.       Financial prudence (capital reserves, diversification of revenue streams, percentage of revenue expenditure on players)
8.       In the short-term, centralized support should be available to clubs across a broad range of areas
a.       IP, Marketing and Brand development and protection
b.       Development of supporter databases
c.       Development and diversification of revenue streams
9.       League TV and sponsorship rights should be sold centrally and shared on an equitable basis (similar to that in the EPL)
10.   There would be no relegation for an initial period of time (to protect and justify the investment required of clubs)
11.   The AIFF should be centrally concerned with grassroots development and the national teams

We need to move to a position in which we have a strong league, financially prudent, with modern infrastructure, and an exciting product pan-India. The only way investment can be justified is if it is done on a collective basis in which that investment is protected (from the threat of relegation) for an initial period

We need to look at tier 2 clubs with the potential for promotion, we need to look at the roles and revenue streams of the regional FA’s and the AIFF, and we need to develop a proper pyramid system but I don’t want to address these issues here and now

Comments invited and welcome