Will Thiruvananthapuram Get an “I-LEAGUE” Team?


Football is now being looked at with a lot of interest by corporate giants such as Sahara India, Hero Motors, Jindal’s JSW Group, DSK Shivajians, GMR, the Dubai-based Dodsal Group and IL&FS.

Their arrival is a blessing for the sport for they can afford to build their own stadiums and develop the grassroots too.

The All India Football Federation’s Open House Meeting in New Delhi on Tuesday, chaired by its President Praful Patel, discussed the direct inclusion of two corporate-backed teams in the next season’s I-League, through a bidding process.

Sunando Dhar, the I-League CEO, was clear about one thing. With the current I-League heavily loaded with clubs from Goa and Kolkata, he did not want them to bid for these two new berths.

“We want to touch new bases in our objective of a pan-Indian I-League. So we are looking at investors investing in bases which do not have an I-League team but the amount of interest in football is huge. For example, Kerala,” he said at the meeting.

Which means that Southern India, which currently does not have a representation in the I-League, is sure to get at least one of the two slots.

“The AIFF is looking at a minimum of two teams and if the response is good, it doesn’t mind increasing it to four,” said Shafi Mather, the Director of Kochi-based Eagles FC, who attended the New Delhi meeting. And this could even mean two berths for Southern India.

Apart from Eagles, Mumbai-based infrastructure development and finance company IL&FS, which is currently building a football-cum-cricket stadium for the National Games at Karyavattom in Thiruvananthapuram on a BOT basis and which it will maintain for around 15 years, has shown interest in bidding for an I-League club from Kerala.

“IL&FS is interested in Thiruvananthapuram while we are looking at Kochi,” said Shafi. 🙂

News Sourced from “The Hindu

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