The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has decided to go ahead with the IMG-R tournament as a new venture as also to organise the I-League in its old format.
Yet, a lot of issues have to be sorted out. According to AIFF officials who attended Thursday’s executive committee meeting in New Delhi, the sponsors are keeping cards close to their heart and nothing has been openly discussed.
Even if the AIFF president Praful Patel, the Central Minister for Heavy Industries, uses his clout to rope in franchisees for the eight teams that are to play in the new tournament, where are the players coming from?
It is an established fact that in football, foreigners or even local players can only play for another club after completing the necessary Transfer Matching System (TMS) formalities.
Once both clubs inform FIFA of the decision to sign the player concerned and conditions are agreeable to both, the player is cleared by FIFA to play for his new club.
There is no other system by which a foreigner can come to another country and ply his trade.
Very recently, to a query from Express, FIFA had stated that the word ‘auction’ was not part of its vocabulary. It had also said in the mail that transfers can take place only during the two transfer windows.
“FIFA regulates that there shall be two windows, a longer one spanning a maximum of twelve weeks in the break between two seasons and a shorter one for a pmaximum period of four weeks during the middle of a season. The specific periods depend on the league’s season cycle and are determined by the national football authorities,” it said.
Free players can be signed by a club at any time during the season, if they are released by their previous club before the end of the transfer window.
But in the case of the AIFF, the clubs themselves have not been established for the new tournament.
So how can they even sign any player without being formed under the rules?
Many nations have a January 1 to March 31 period as the pre-season longer window and the July 15 to Aug 15 period as the mid-season shorter window.
An open window (all through the year) both ways is yet to be established.
Then there is the question of money. Big names cost the moon.
Unlike in other disciplines, the money bags of sponsors may not be enough to rope in big names.
With so many problems related to player transfers, how will the organisers bring in foreign players?
“IMG-R have informed the AIFF that they have offices all over the world. They have approached players through agents and that’s how their services will be procured,” said an official. “They will have to be brought in through the online TMS,” he said.
When pointed out that the TMS is only between registered clubs, he said: “They propose to register clubs and then have the transfers effected. They have one in Bangalore and another in Maharashtra. Other clubs will be registered for players to be transferred.”