Amid concerns whether the new IMG-R franchise-based tournament will move on without the services of premiere I-League players, former India football captain Bhaichung Bhutia gave it a much needed shot in the arm as he was brought on board as a consultant by the organisers on Tuesday.
Putting his weight behind the new tournament, Bhutia said he was hopeful that players from all I-League clubs would be allowed to play in the newly formed tournament even though most clubs have till now opposed the tournament and refused to loan players to the new tournament or take players contracted to it.
“The clubs and the new tournament organisers have to come together so that players get to play in both tournaments. We need a tournament that can bring in crowds to the stadium and motivate the young generation to play the game,” said Bhutia, who was in the city to interact with players signed on with the new league.
“We need to look at the national side of it, so that players get exposure. They get confidence playing against good quality players. The confidence and the quality improves, once that happens, the club and the national team also gets into it. We need to look at the national (picture) and not just the I-League,” he said.
“Being the president of the players’ association, I have spoken to the players and they are looking forward to it. I think it will benefit players a lot. More than that, I think it is going to benefit Indian football,” added Bhutia. The new tournament commences in January next year, with a pool of 64 Indian footballers, Bhutia’s entry into the IMG-R setup has raised hopes that the football star could come out of retirement and return to football action as a player in the tournament.