Football fans in India can now tune into Hotstar and Jio TV to watch the fixtures of the Hero I-League which will not be televised. The online broadcast on Hotstar and Jio TV will be underway from Friday (January 04, 2019) when Neroca FC face Shillong Lajong in a 2 pm kick-off in Imphal.
“We did not want the fans to miss out on the Hero I-League action. Having worked this out with our commercial partners Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL), we have come to the conclusion that the matches which will not be broadcast, will be available online,” AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das said. “These matches will be shown with commentary, highlights and replays.”
Hero I-League CEO Sunando Dhar added, “The commitment was to show all the matches, and we are happy that they will be live streamed so that football fans can now follow their favourite teams.”
This comes as a big victory for fans, who were unhappy with Star's move of televising only 30 out of the remaining 61 matches of the I-League.
The Indian football fraternity as a whole criticised the decision as Star allotted prime slots for the Indian Super League (ISL), a competition that it runs as part of the FSDL.
Club owners too got together to condemn the AIFF and FSDL for not giving the I-League the importance it deserves. The union had threatened to move the CAS, FIFA if the AIFF does not respond to its demands by January 5.
In a letter to the AIFF president Praful Patel, Minerva Punjab owner Ranjit Bajaj had said: "We request you to ensure that there is good promotion and marketing of I-League.
"We urge the AIFF to put your foot down and demand that Star Sports give preference to the national league over the ISL if necessary."
Bajaj's Minerva are the defending champions and were the ones who were most affected by Star's move. As per the schedule sent by Star, only one of their remaining matches would be televised.
AIFF's latest move should come as a relief for Bajaj and the rest of the I-League clubs.
(Additional inputs by Aravind Suchindran)Published 03 Jan 2019, 17:53 IST