India Sports
Professional football league to kick off from October
Apr 11, 2007 - 11:30:46 PM

New Delhi, April 11 - Indian football is all set to have a facelift with the launch of Professional League from October, it was announced by the All India Football Federation - here Wednesday.

'The executive committee meeting of the AIFF discussed the issue and resolved unanimously to introduce the professional league, which will take the full and final shape by 2009,' AIFF president Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi said at a press conference.

In its inaugural year, the league will have only 10 teams and the professional club criteria would include having at least 14 contractual players, a licensed coach and access to stadium.

'Four out of 14 contractual players would have a two-year stable contract and players' obligation to the club will be permanent.

'In its second year, the professional club would be either a company or a registered society with their own regulation and statute with financial backing of sponsor and the number of contractual players would go up to 18,' Dasmunsi added.

In the third and fourth years, the clubs would be required to have 22 contractual players.

The professional league calendar would be from Oct 2-Feb 28 and state leagues would be held after the professional league ends.

Dasmunsi also said that the introduction of the professional league would not have any bearing on the state football associations.

'During the professional league calendar, no other tournament like Santosh Trophy would be held. There is no obligation for clubs which are not part of this league,' he said.

However, it has been reported that the AIFF in its earlier meeting to approve the professional league faced stiff resistance from the state associations of West Bengal and Goa, who opposed the introduction of the league saying that the tournament will strip the state league much of its shine.

Meanwhile, the federation was in two minds over the participation of foreign players in the professional league.

'There is a debate going on this. Some say increase the number - and some say decrease or abolish. This matter will be sorted out in AIFF's workshop in August this year,' Dasmunsi said.

He also announced that FIFA president Sepp Blatter's visit to India has been rescheduled.

'Instead of coming on April 15, the FIFA president would arrive in Kolkata on the evening of April 14. On April 16, he will visit Delhi and would call on the prime minister apart from attending an AIFF banquet.

'On April 17, he will inaugurate Football House in Dwarka and would attend a special conference at Vigyan Bhawan,' Dasmunsi said.

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