The All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) open house session for interested agencies looking at owning an I-League team had one clear bottom line: abiding by and implementing the Club Licensing Criteria (CLC).
The focus of the discussion, which was held between the AIFF and the interested bidders in New Delhi on Tuesday, was solely on infrastructure and youth development — an integral part of CLC.
“We’re looking at companies focused on infrastructure development, and whether they’re in a position to acquire lease for a stadium, if not build a new one,” I-League CEO Sunando Dhar said. “Besides this, youth development is the other focal point. And for that, we’re giving them an option of either taking over our existing AIFF academies or building a new one themselves.”
As many as 30 corporates including GMR, Hero, Sahara, JSW, Venky’s, Dodsal FC and a few infrastructure companies from cities like Bangalore and Kerala participated in the session. The tender notices for acquiring a team will be floated in the first week of April, while the final decision will be made in the middle of May. Depending on the bids, a minimum of two and maximum of four new teams would be added to next I-League season. Dhar said they will not allow the new clubs to set up their base in Kolkata or Goa, as they want to expand football to the other cities.
The AIFF is also eyeing international bidders in another session that will be held in Dubai in the last week of March. “We would invite the top clubs of Europe and Asia in Dubai, and give them an option of either fully or jointly owning a club,” Dhar added.