The I-League will begin on Saturday sans telecast, sans title sponsor and sans any form of publicity.
Till late on Thursday, the website of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) listed that reigning champions Churchill Brothers’ opener in Goa against Salgaocar on Saturday would be live on TV. Also scheduled to be on air in the first weekend was Mohun Bagan’s opener, away to debutants Bengaluru FC on Sunday.
Forget telecast, even promotion of the tournament seems conspicuous by its absence. As things stand now, the telecast will only be from the second round (beginning September 28) at the earliest.
No one was willing to come on record but from what was pieced together by speaking to officials at the AIFF, the broadcasters and IMG-Reliance, the federation’s commercial arm, it was learnt that the production agreement was signed only this week.
“Now a recce will be done at the venues and the earliest the telecast will start is the second round,” said an AIFF official.
A senior official at the official broadcaster though couldn’t explain why the channel was advertising a cricket series no one is sure of instead of the I-League which they are contracted to broadcast and whose fixtures were finalised on August 29.
It will again begin without a title sponsor though after nearly three years of trying, IMG-Reliance is said to be still in the market. IMG-Reliance’s spokesperson didn’t want to comment on this.