Friday, 23 March, 2018

Need to empower Indian football

The Indian football league needs to grow in terms of development, knowledge and culture in order to be able to put on a good product

12th August 2017, 11:56 Hrs


The ISL-4 although three months away from now, already seems primed for another stellar season with the addition of three new franchises all of whom along with the existing teams just about threw a shade on the IPL in terms of how well they approached the Draft through their meticulous scouting, planning and strategy. Teams have signed players prioritizing their philosophy of play instead of player's reputations.
Furthermore the expansion of the League is a win-win situation considering crucial factors such as more spots opening up for local talent, broadcasters/sponsors/franchises getting substantial value for their money.
That apart, the most critical gain in this author's opinion that the league starting in November would coincide with the winter break of most European Leagues. European clubs can be approached during that time to avail of their players on loan.
Previously the short duration of the ISL would have hindered its stakeholder's abilities to procure players on loan as clubs looking to move players would have favoured clubs who could take their players for longer period of time.
Money aside, it assured that players' match fitness was taken care of. All in all, as mentioned things look to be going from strength to strength but similar to the pains of post-ISL 2 with unfortunate incidents that raised its ugly head through FC Goa there seems the unwanted distraction coming out from FC Kolkata and their split with Atletico Madrid.
As reported by sources, Atletico were looking for higher share in revenues split while Kolkata decided to renege their partnership with a rather tasteless observation that Atletico didn't invest a penny in the project.
It's this very short-sighted approach which has hindered the progression of clubs in that region and thereby potentially threatens not only malign the creditability of the club in question but also the league's ability to attract international expertise. What Atletico provided was far more valuable in terms of financials.
Starting with the coaching management to the players provided by them, it ensured that Atletico Madrid's philosophy of play extended on to the pitch. It was an eye-opening exposure of footballing culture that this country's teams and its players desperately needed in order to make the next step that they haven't been able to collectively make for decades.
The likes of Atletico Madrid, Seville, Bilbao without the riches of Barcelona and Real Madrid have consistently been able to fight from the verge of bankruptcy to being financially stable due to a good business plan, smarter recruitment of players and development of its young players. Something which our clubs would have stood to benefit short to long term but now with the impending messy divorce between Atletico and Kolkata which threatens to end up in court, there is a danger that it will scare off potential reputed clubs making forays in to the ISL.
Lets not be under illusions that top foreign clubs will enter India to unearth the next player to play for them. They are too realistic to know this won't happen in another 10 years. Years of involvement in the Middle Eastern Arab Federations have proven that.
Only two Asian countries have contributed players to European Leagues which only routes its success in the effectiveness of its National League. If Clubs in India were to be in this position to be able to sell a player outside its shores than imagine the transfer benefits it would unearth by the funds raised through their sales. Though this is where importance of seeing the bigger picture and how to get there is paramount. Just opening the odd football academy and occasional visit by a football legend is not going to help the cause of the game in this country. The AIFF cant afford to keep sending the national team overseas for a short time to get better. Its too expensive and too shorter a period to make any practical gains.
History has proved that for the national teams to be strong it needs its league to be strong and its club to be able to either attract or develop its own talent. In order to achieve that objective, you need the proven expertise that only Clubs like Atleltico can provide.
European Clubs are not a missionary benevolent movement that dedicate their resources for free just to lend their name to the cause. They seek value. Proof of which can be found in their own leagues. Seven teams in the EPL have their jerseys sponsored by Chinese or Japanese firms. Spanish and Italian Clubs have been the benefactors of Chinese investments which they have used to buy some of the best talents. AC Milan is a prime example.
The Indian football league needs to grow in terms of development, knowledge and culture in order to be able to put on a good product. For that it needs those tie ups with partners that will help them fast track its path in getting there and increase its ability to provide better players, standard of players and as a result the money will follow. Hopefully common sense prevails.

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