The situation brewing around the postponement of the proposed Indian Super league has left many perplexed. There has been a sudden influx of former Pailan Arrows players in the most of the I-League clubs, with one to many players unhappy with the way AIFF has handled their case lately. So what actually went wrong in the there? Let’s take a vigilant look and analyse the current situation with respect to the clubs gaining and young players losing out.
What is Indian Super League?
ISL is a new league proposed by IMG-Reliance: the commercial and marketing partners of the governing body of football in India- AIFF. The 700 cr project will witness this two and half month league, strategically placed in the in the Indian football season. Matches will be played out across specific states where the organisers expect the league to draw maximum crowd. It
The inevitable dissolution of the Pailan Arrows
AIFF had put together a developmental side in 2010, which consisted of U-19 and U-23 players. This team could ply their trade in the I-League among the best in the business, without being relegated (the chances were healthy as there were no foreign players). The main motive was to unleash a group of players till 2015, who are all set to represent the national colours and fight out for a spot in 2018 FIFA world cup.
In the summer of 2011, AIFF also managed to get a sponsorship for the team in Pailan Group and ergo the team name changed from Indian Arrows to Pailan Arrows.
After three years , when these group of boys finally came to the party in the league and started to believe themselves, showcasing their talent- the Pailan Group came out and publicly stated that the group can no longer support the cause and is now withdrawing its sponsorship . Following Mahindra United and JCT FC, now a very young team in Pailan Arrows was dissolved to the shock of many football lovers in the country.
ISL roping in Pailan Arrows players
The out of contract Pailan arrows players were very shrewdly roped in by the interested I-League clubs, but the drama did not stop here. Being a partner to the governing body of football in India, IMG-R demanded that the disbanded players be allowed to join ISL as it needed a certain quota of players to get a green signal on their proposed league. AIFF was still unperturbed and without giving a single thought to the careers of some of the budding stars of the game in the country, allowed ISL to sign the contracts with them. The practice session were kicked off at the Cooperage ground in Mumbai with stars like John Abraham also hailing the path breaking IPL style football league.
On the other hand, the clubs on the other hand got together and I-League Professional Football Clubs’ Association (IPFCA) stated that there will be absolutely no association of the clubs with any player who have pledged their alliance with IMG-Reliance’s Indian Super League (ISL).
So, What went wrong?
In a sudden turn of events, ISL-who’s bidding process was scheduled to be held later this month, decided to postpone the league to September next year. A clear reason for that was the unability to sign the marquee players for the league which could actually help the young Indian players and more importantly grab the eyeballs. The million dollar question was- now what happens to the ISL contracted players?
The 60 odd players contracted by ISL included some players which could prove to be vital in upcoming important tournaments like the U-22 Asian Qualifiers (scheduled in July) and the Asian Games (in September-October). This meant that these players would have only played a league of 2 an half months in build up to these tournaments? This was catered by IPFCA, who diligently decided to rope in former Pailan arrows players after a meeting in Kolkata. Here is a quick look at the players now in the various I-League squad rosters.
There were troubles among the IPFCA as well when Md. Sporting broke the pact and went on to sign some of the more influential IMG contracted players like Syed Nabi, Barreto, Manish Maithani, Ishfaq Ahmed and Mehrajuddin Wadoo. IPFCA is still to get a written explanation from the Kolkata club on why was this pact was breached while signing of these players.
Raj Gomes (IPFCA President) opined:
“Regarding the Pailan Arrows players, we have decided that since the ISL is postponed, we can take them on loan. All clubs have agreed to that. Regarding IMG-Reliance players, we have decided that we can take them, provided they are out of contract with IMG-Reliance. If they are out of contract, we will take them,”
Now the Impact:
1) Re-scheduling of the I-League calendar- there were no matches scheduled from January 15 to march as AIFF had submitted to the whims of IMG-R and had slotted the ISL during this time.
2) Pailan Arrows players getting lesser amount to what other players are getting. This is because the players are still on loan to the aforementioned clubs, and the loan period has now been extended to the end of this season. AIFF stated that post the league the players would be free to join IMG-R backed ISL or continue with I-League. But till then these young upcoming players will have to live with lesser salary and an unclear future.
3) Some players, who could have initially got a contract with an I-League club would now have to stay content with second division clubs.
4) The I-League commenced without some big shot national players like former AIFF player of the year – Syed Nabi, former internationals Ishfaq Ahmed, Mehrajuddin Wadoo etc. These players were initially excited by the prospect of the ISL. but were then left dry and high by the mismanagement of the ISL. Some of them are still without a club.
5) The Federation Cup, which embarks the start of the Indian football season was also left hanging in the middle as it’s dates were not finalized owing to the discussions orbiting around the fixtures of ISL.
With loads of social media messages in the last few weeks exclaiming that how Robert Pires, Theirry Henry and David Beckham could be plying their trade in a football stadium nearby, ISL had the impact which it was looking for. As it is said, when you fail to plan, you actually plan to fail. That’s what happened with Indian Super League, and now it’s impact will be sadly shouldered by young football players of the country and deservedly by the governing body too. Who will be more affected by this, is certainly not rocket science.