Indian clubs form association as I-League revamp talks continue

Clubs from the I-League, the top division of football in India, formed the Indian Professional Football Clubs Association in an effort to safeguard their interests as the All India Football Federation governing body and its commercial partner, IMG Reliance, continue to work on proposals to overhaul the league.

IMG Reliance, a sports and media joint venture between the IMG agency and Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries, owns the federation’s media, intellectual property and sponsorship rights – including the I-League’s rights – under a 15-year deal, from 2010 to 2025. The federation and IMG Reliance plan to unveil a restructuring plan for the I-League at a meeting with clubs in late April. The changes were due to be introduced last month, but opposition from the clubs led to them being postponed pending further talks between all parties.

The clubs association said it plans to promote the common interests of the clubs, make the I-League sustainable and profitable, and encourage the formation of new professional clubs. The clubs also want a more clearly defined revenue-sharing model in place for the restructured competition.

“The association will work with the AIFF and IMG to chalk out a future plan for Indian football,” Nandran Piramal, the owner of I-League club Pune, said. “We have been promised that a proper revenue model and a road map would be given to us on April 20. We are not wanting returns tomorrow, but we need a long-term revenue model, over three or five years.”

Piramal said the federation and its marketing partners had been “very receptive” to the formation of the clubs association.