Football all set to head the Indian Premier League way

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> If things go as planned for ace footballer Bhaichung Bhutia and model-turned-actor John Abraham, they could be the sport's Lalit Modi as India could soon have a

Updated: August 02, 2010 18:02 IST
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Mumbai :

If things go as planned for ace footballer Bhaichung Bhutia and model-turned-actor John Abraham, they could be the sport's Lalit Modi as India could soon have an Indian Football League (IFL) similar to the controversial, yet highly successful, Indian Premier League in cricket.
The IPL caught the imagination of not just cricket fans across the world, but those who love glamour. The Twenty20 league was all about cricket's best names and Bollywood personalities.

India captain Bhutia and football buff Abraham have already submitted a detailed proposal to the All India Football Federation (AIFF).

"We have received a proposal from Bhutia and Abraham as well as a few others. AIFF has discussed the proposals, but things are at a very early stage right now. We will have to first look at our football calendar and then consider the proposals," AIFF vice-president Subroto Dutta said.

It is learnt that Abraham approached Bhutia with the idea of the IFL and the footballer loved the concept. The two then approached the big bosses of the AIFF.

Around the same time, Bhutia discovered other companies, including that of two industrialists, who own teams in the IPL, were also formulating a similar plan. A European company is believed to be involved in the project.

According to sources within the AIFF, Bhutia and Abraham will have to compete with other proposals. Apart from the duo, football buffs seem very confident about the league's feasibility. However, some feel the time is not right to go ahead. Shailendra Singh, Joint MD of event management company Percept, believes a league like this could tap the unexplored market of football lovers.

"India has a huge fan base for football and it is largely unexplored. The youth of this country are not just interested in watching football, but also want to play," says Singh, who recently signed up India boxer Vijender Singh.

"But not much has been done about giving fans what they want. If the AIFF can provide the fans with good football, they will surely lap it up," he adds.

"If it's just a two-week thing where foreign players will play and everyone will have a bit of fun then it's not a problem. But I don't see it (Indian Football League) helping Indian football," says Sanjiv Saran Mehra, who organises football tournaments on a regular basis.

"I think it will fracture the existing structure which needs serious rework anyway. The I-League is the most important tournament in the country and we cannot afford to have any interference with that. Rather than floating another league, the time has come to restructure and improve on the I-League and the infrastructure like grounds and other facilities," adds Saran.

The plan submitted by Bhutia and Abraham has several similarities to the IPL model including the presence of an icon player.

The two believe a player like former Netherlands midfielder Edgar Davids, who played for clubs like Ajax, AC Milan, Juventus and Tottenham Hotspurs, could be a perfect candidate to be an icon player.

They believe that the teams would have to shell out around Rs 1.5 crore to get foreign players of the calibre of Davids. According to them, the league would be played over 45 days.

Both Bhutia and Abraham were not available for comment.

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