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AIFF issues fresh tender as I-League clubs' bids fall short

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Kolkata, Nov 23 (IANS) With all three bids from interested parties falling short of the mark, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) was forced to call for another round of tendering on Wednesday for a new corporate club to play in the I-League starting January 7.

The meeting will now be held on December 11 while the last date for the fresh submission of bids is December 8.

According to well placed sources, the requirements for a club desiring direct entry will be rejigged keeping in mind the prevalent scenario in Indian football.

With talks in the air of a merger of the I-League and the Indian Super League (ISL), after the U-17 World Cup to be hosted by India next year, the earlier norms that ensured the entry of Bengaluru FC, now-defunct Bharat FC and DSK Shivajians, are expected to be mellowed down in terms of finance to get these teams in.

Earlier Bengaluru FC, now-defunct Bharat FC or DSK Shivajians came into the I-League directly signing a five-year deal with the AIFF.

Minerva Academy FC, FC Bardez Goa and Chennai City FC were the three clubs in question for a direct entry into the league whose tenders had to be rejected.

The I-League received a fresh jolt on Tuesday when Sporting Clube de Goa decided against participating in the top flight tournament, joining another Goa-based club Salgaocar which pulled out earlier.

Although Dempo -- promoted in the top tier from the second division this season -- have not made it official, word is that the five-time league winners will go the same way citing lack of clarity from the federation.

The AIFF's bid evaluation committee comprising its General Secretary Kushal Das, Senior Vice-President Subrata Dutta and league's CEO Sunando Dhar, sat down on Wednesday and listened to presentations from all the three interested parties. But in the end they couldn't confirm a single bid.

The I-League has now only seven confirmed clubs (East Bengal, Mohun Bagan, Bengaluru FC, DSK Shivajians, Mumbai FC, Shillong Lajong, Aizawl FC).

Meanwhile, a two-day scouting camp of the U-16 Youth League players for the U-17 World Cup, to be hosted by India in 2017, concluded in the capital on Wednesday.

AIFF's Director of Scouting and former India player Abhishek Yadav said in a release, "Some of our players in the U-17 World Cup squad have been found out through scouting and we have to unearth talent in order to add to the ranks of the Indian squad."

"There is no dearth of talent in the nation and through this scouting network, we ensure that every part of the country is touched."

"Every stakeholder plays an important role when we host the U-17 World Cup next year and it is the onus of the clubs to send us their best players so we can take a look at them", the former striker said.

Yadav is also the Chief Operating Officer for the U-17 World Cup.

Asked about his plans for shortlisted players, Yadav said, "We will shortlist players who we feel will suit the setup of the Indian U-17 World Cup squad. It will be up to the discretion of the Head Coach (Nicolai Adam) if the shortlisted players are good enough to play for the national team."

Fifty players were called for the first day of the scouting camp and on the second day the number was pruned to 25.

"We are searching for quality, not quantity. The players need to be gifted technically if they are to catch our eye", Yadav said.

The third phase of the scouting through the U-16 Youth League will be held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda, Goa, next Friday and Saturday.

--IANS

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