Didn’t want to bleed anymore, says Durante | sports | Hindustan Times
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Didn’t want to bleed anymore, says Durante

At a seminar on Indian football at the Fifa House in Zurich, Alan Durante pointed out that no club makes money in India. Dhiman Sarkar reports.

sports Updated: Jun 22, 2011 00:34 IST
Dhiman Sarkar

At a seminar on Indian football at the Fifa House in Zurich, Alan Durante pointed out that no club makes money in India. In the two-and-a-half years between then and now, two of India’s top clubs have disbanded vindicating that claim. One of them, Mahindra United, Durante helmed

for long, supervising its makeover from relegation-threatened Mahindra and Mahindra into a glamour outfit that won everything Indian football offered.

Speaking from Mumbai on Tuesday, one day after JCT became the second top-rung Indian club to pull out of competitive football, Durante told HT: “We didn’t want to bleed anymore. In 2010, most I-League clubs would need between R 7-11 crore to maintain the team. Add a 20% appreciation in players’ salaries each year to get an idea of how costs spiral.

And the revenue stream is zero. How long can you continue this way?”

The club president attributed the closure to shoddy infrastructure too. “Renovation of the Cooperage was mired in litigation. I am told the order got vacated this year. We wanted to spruce up the Cooperage. You can’t blame people for not coming to a ground where the stands would look like they would break any minute. But the situation we were in was that there was no crowd, no gate money, no money from television revenue, little or no TV coverage. We just didn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.”

The only difference between what Durante said and JCT’s pulling out is that Mahindra United, a team funded by the Mumbai-based Mahindra Group, announced their decision when they were in contention for I-League 3. The Punjab team, champions in 1996-97, was relegated from I-League 4 last month.

Durante agreed that most clubs lose money worldwide but griped about the lack of infrastructure that translated into empty stands and poor visibility of India’s top competitions. “If the stadiums were full, no club would have thought of winding up,” he said.

Asked whether he found it strange that infrastructure is dismal despite the All India Football Federation (AIFF) being headed by Union cabinet ministers (Priya Ranjan Das Munshi and now Praful Patel), Durante said: “I think Praful will do a better job. He’s more proactive. But, yes, the government could have done more.”

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