Throwing their weight firmly behind city soccer giants East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, the state's governing body for the sport, Indian Football Association (IFA), on Friday said it would do its best to protect the interests of both the clubs.
The two clubs will meet All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel in Mumbai on Saturday seeking support for approaching the governing body's commercial and marketing partners IMG-Reliance (IMG-R) to waive off the franchise fee of Rs.15 crore. The fee is one of the conditions they have been asked to fulfil in order to be part of the revamped Indian Super League (ISL) which will have all eight ISL franchises and possibly three I-League clubs.
The traditional teams also want to play their home matches in Kolkata besides wanting to rope in their own sponsors. This, they believe, can help them prevent relinquishing intellectual properties such as jersey, logo, and team name, which would otherwise be granted to IMG-R.
"If the standoff between AIFF and its commercial and marketing partners IMG-R regarding the participation of both Bengal clubs in the league remains, we will do whatever we can to see that their interests are safeguarded," IFA general secretary Utpal Ganguli told IANS on the eve of the meeting.
"We will approach other state associations whose clubs are also deprived of the proposed new league and will take it forward from there if the issue is not resolved which I believe will be soon. Football is being commercialised and we are talking about two clubs who have contributed so much to Indian football," Ganguli said.
The meeting is slated for 12 noon where both club representatives will present their case in front of Patel. The proposed new league could well see the light of day from 2017-18.