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Clubs force AIFF hand

New Delhi: The I-League clubs, on Wednesday, were able to force the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to discard the proposed ‘conference model’ for the league next season, but had to pay a price for it.

According to sources, the clubs have informally agreed to accept a cut in their travel and daily allowances so that the money saved could be used to run the league in the old model of home-and-away format.

The AIFF had earlier planned to play the preliminary state of the league in two groups, saying it would enable them to bring down the cost of the league by more than Rs. 2 crore. “The deficit budget should be around Rs. 16 to 18 lakh per club. The clubs have agreed to accept a lesser amount of money on account of their travel and daily allowances. They are supposed to present a written proposal in the next couple of days. Then the matter would be placed before the emergency committee,” said an AIFF official.

In another major turnaround, the AIFF has agreed to continue its developmental side, Pailan Arrows, for one more season. They had earlier decided, in their previous emergency committee meeting, to wind up the age-group side.

“An official announcement in this matter would be made after consulting the emergency committee,” the official said, adding: “Since the sponsors of the team have agreed to most of our proposals, we see no reason why the team could not be continued.”

With the transfer season already two-week old, the AIFF will now have to swing into action to raise a decent team for the I-League. Though the Arrows already have 22 players in their rolls, at least 10 to 12 more players are needed to finalise the squad. Arrows’ last year’s coach, Arthur Papas, has already quit and joined Dempo Sports Club.

AIFF sources said that former Prayag United and Mohammedan Sporting coach Sanjay Sen is likely to be appointed in place of Papas. “The selection of the squad would strictly be done by our coaching squad, purely on merit,” an official said.

The clubs, however, remained firm on their decision not to release their players on loan for the franchise based tournament to be organised by federation’s marketing partners. There are, however, indications that the organisers of the tournament would soon have a meeting with the club officials to convince them about releasing footballers on loan.

In the I-League committee meeting on Wednesday, the clubs agreed to play the Federation Cup in the new format of home-and-away basis from October 15. In the draw held on Wednesday, defending champions East Bengal have been drawn to play Mumbai Tigers in their opening match, to be played in Calcutta.