The boxing gloves are out again. I-League clubs and the All India Football Federation (AIFF) have always shared a frosty relation and latest revelations make that clearer.
Early this month, reports surfaced over the non-payment of last year's prize money to club. It also turns out the usual practice of TV revenue being shared among clubs is not followed in the league.
Small rifts like these is one of the primary reasons that the I-League has little chance of gaining popularity.
Dempo coach Armando Colaco told Firstpost: "Firstly AIFF signed the TV deal without consulting all I-League clubs. Secondly, we don't get a penny from broadcast revenues. We're only allowed to put a few advertising boards across the stadium."
"We need better footballers and for that, we need money. We need to make the sport popular. The football may not be good enough, but if the league gets stronger, that will also happen."
He also reminded us that the AIFF has delayed prize money payments to I-League clubs.
But the AIFF have their reasons: "Money from TV rights doesn't come to the AIFF anyway. As for the Western practice of sharing broadcast revenues, let me inform you that the AIFF is one of the few leagues which pays for transport, stay and organisation of all league matches. So the I-League clubs can't have the coconut and the root both," said an official.
To give you an idea of how English Premier League TV rights work: Domestically, 50% of the rights are shared among all clubs equally, 25% is divided as per EPL standings and the rest of the 25% based on whose matches were broadcast. And when it comes to international broadcasting, the money is divided equally. So if Blackburn Rovers are playing Manchester United, both clubs will divide international broadcast revenue.
In the La Liga, clubs can negotiate their TV rights individually. Hence the argument that Real Madrid and Barcelona are squeezing the rest of the clubs of money.
But as the AIFF source puts it, "The I-League is not profitable at all. It is running at a loss. European clubs have a lot of other responsibilities, with bank guarantees and organisational cost going from their own pockets. I-League clubs aren't ready for that yet."
The AIFF pays Rs 75,000 for the organisation of home matches. They are also ready to pay Rs 2,25,000 for floodlit matches. Their total budget for the I-League is around Rs 18 crore.
But Colaco takes the argument further: "I've observed that foreign coaches are paid in a timely manner. But the Indian coaches have to cry in front of the AIFF to get money out of them."
With petty fights and ego-clashes like these, it seems more like politics than football. And when that happens to any sport, it's very hard to grow.
Firstpost has a detailed interview with Armando Colaco, one of India's top coaches which will be published on Thursday.
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Updated Date: Oct 23, 2012 18:02:35 IST