Football is for the fans. To every part of the world that has seen the beautiful game, Football has been about the emotions attached to it. However, when popularity becomes the bigger priority, the focus shifts from pure enjoyment to a money-making industry. It is on the thin line between these that most Indian Football clubs struggle to stand on.
A few months back we saw a flash of what would have spoilt Football for most fans. The European Super League, a League unfairly formed with the sole purpose of generating larger revenues from games. An evil scheme to put aside every other club that does not possess great financial assets. Indian Football has already crept into that, leaving most of the older clubs with scraps.
Indian Football always struggled with popularity be it the National League or the I-League. Poor grassroots development, biased scouting and overall neglect from Federations never allowed it to grow. Thus, the Indian Super League was formed. A League with a new set of teams overflowing with finances. It completely wiped out the I-League teams of the little recognition they had.
Should Indian Football change it’s structure?
The Indian Super League is an elitist League that does not allow smaller clubs to make their way to the highest level. With no concept of relegation, the teams that can pay huge sums can participate and increase their popularity. The I-League on the other hand allows smaller teams to climb up through their ranks. They are not paid well and thus it does not allow expected developments.
Teams like Dempo SC and Salgaocar FC who once played in the I-League do not participate anymore. The reasons being that it is loss-making and will not improve unless the financial structure is balanced.
The best solution to this would be a merger. Teams from the I-League, ISL and even smaller League should play a qualifier and the top-20 should in the 1st Division. The ladder goes with another 25 in the 2nd Division. AIFF should take responsibility in terms of distributing the revenue reasonably so that none of the clubs go bankrupt.
This would ensure that the country has a well-defined league structure that allows every club to grow without any bias. This will encourage more players to play in the bigger leagues and will increase competitiveness.
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