Around the time the executive committee of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) is updated about the league planned by its commercial partners, players signed for it will start arriving in Mumbai. One day later, on Friday, the ball will start rolling for the world’s first-ever franchise football competition.
That’s when some 36 players signed by the AIFF’s commercial partners IMG Reliance for the eight-team inter-city league start training at the Cooperage. It is likely to be under Trevor James Morgan who returns to India a little over two months after quitting East Bengal.
Morgan is set to join as consultant with the AIFF’s commercial partners for a month. Thus he wouldn’t be violating the termination clause with East Bengal which, a source said, stipulates that he can’t coach an Indian club for one year.
Ishfaq Ahmed is one of those signed for this 10-week meet. Speaking over the phone from home in Srinagar, the midfielder who played for East Bengal last season said he is looking forward to training under Morgan again.
The competition’s scheduled to kick-off on January 18, 2014. “IMG Reliance has always said they don’t have a problem with us playing for clubs,” said Ahmed. He and former India defender Mehrajuddin Wadoo leave for the camp on Thursday.
A crucial part of presentation on Thursday is likely to be IMG Reliance getting most of the 64 Indian footballers --- including 20 from Pailan Arrows --- to be put up for auction.
That means the new league can be held without taking a single I-League player if needed. Internationals such as Syed Rahim Nabi, Gouramangi Singh, Sanju Pradhan, Nirmal Chhetri and Subrata Pal are said to be among those signed.
It was learnt that the first match would be held in Mumbai and the final in Mumbai, New Delhi or Kolkata.
The bidding for the franchises is tentatively scheduled for late August in Mumbai where the players’ auction will also be held, possibly early September. Each team will have a marquee foreign player.