In what could be a major boost for All India Football Federation (AIFF), its commercial partner IMG-Reliance has expressed a willingness to save its development squad, which is on the verge of being disbanded.
Reliable sources in the know of development have informed that IMGR wants the development project to continue and is also ready to go to the extent of taking over the team if need be. Current sponsors Pailan seemed to be on their way out.
"IMGR has decided to step ahead in helping the fate of the young footballers and if need be, is also willing to sponsor the Arrows players and is even considering taking over the team completely under a new identity to continue playing in I-League," a well-placed source told PTI on Sunday.
The source also informed that IMGR has asked AIFF to reconsider the decision and call a meeting for all the stakeholders in order to explore various options.
"They will also ensure the club fulfils all the AFC licensing criteria in the same time frame as the new clubs are given. The salaries of the players will be safeguarded by IMGR," the source added.
"India are in with a strong chance of hosting the U-17 FIFA World Cup. IMGR top brass believes that if AIFF decides to disband the youth development programme which is at a nascent stage, this could hamper the chances of potential stakeholders thinking about long-term investment in Indian football," the official further informed.
Pailan Arrows now have 37 players on its payrolls and AIFF wants to loan out 20 players to various I-League clubs.
This could effectively mean that around 17 players will be left in the limbo, and IMGR is against it.