Indian football not advertisement friendly as of now: Kushal Das
The 12th edition of the I-League is just around the corner. It is a much-anticipated yearly tournament and will be played by 11 teams, including new entrants Real Kashmir. Churchill Brothers were supposed to be relegated as they finished 9th last season (Indian Arrows finished 10th but have relegation immunity being an AIFF developmental side) but All India Football Federation (AIFF) has taken a decision to let them play in the top division.
If Churchill were relegated then there would have been no team from the West zone for the upcoming season. Now, there is representation from all parts of India -- North (Minerva Punjab, Real Kashmir FC); East (Aizawl FC, NEROCA FC, Shillong Lajong FC, Mohun Bagan, and Quess East Bengal); West (Churchill Brothers FC); South (Gokulam Kerala FC, Chennai City FC); Indian Arrows (AIFF Development side).
A glittering launch event for the 12th edition of India's premier football league was organized in the capital recently. AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das said at the launch event:
"We have not achieved what we wanted to in Indian football yet but we are certainly on the right track. I would like to wish all the participating teams good luck for the upcoming edition of the I-league. I congratulate all the stakeholders for their immense contribution in making this possible.
"People often ask me the financial model in Indian Football. I tell them that the biggest progression in Indian football has been because we are able to showcase all the matches on Star Sports, which is the biggest channel.
I still feel there are some issues as far as the sustainability of the financial model of Indian football is concerned. The prime issue is broadcasting revenue. The Indian market is advertisement driven and not subscription driven. For example, one gives as much as 50 pounds per month to get only a Premier League channel. However, in India, one pays roughly Rs. 3000 per year to get over 300 channels. Hence, the Indian market is driven by advertisements as there is not much money in subscriptions.
Football is not advertisement friendly/driven by advertisements as of now. That is a challenge which we are struggling with and we hope to find a solution. Of course, we can tap more people, especially the younger generation, using the new social media tools such as Facebook streaming, etc. We have been exploiting such mediums as well.
The biggest challenge would be to find a sustainable and viable model for all the stakeholders. We are working on that. Slowly -- as the quality and the pitch improves -- we will have more takers. In the next 4-5 years, we may have a model which has a sustainable environment for the clubs and stakeholders both.
I would like to thank all the clubs for their passion and commitment. Lastly, I would like to thank Indian football fans as without them nothing is possible. Looking forward to a great season of Indian football."
AIFF Chairman Subrata Dutta, Indian National team coach Stephen Constantine, and Hero MotoCorp Chairman, MD and CEO, Mr Pawan Munjal, were the other dignitaries present at the I-League launch event. The first match of the league will be played between Chennai City FC and Indian Arrows at 5:00 pm IST in Coimbatore.