AIFF increase I-League prize money, bring back Federation Cup

In what seems to be a move to stop the exodus of clubs, the AIFF have come up with a decision to award an amount of Rs 1 crore (INR 10 million) as prize money to the winners of the I-League of the upcoming 2016 edition.

Last season's champions Mohun Bagan got a winner's cheque of Rs 70 lakhs.   -  K MURALI KUMAR

In what seems to be a move to stop the exodus of clubs, the AIFF have come up with a decision to award an amount of Rs 1 crore (INR 10 million) as prize money to the winners of the I-League of the upcoming 2016 edition.

It is a significant hike from the previous seasons as last year’s champions Mohun Bagan pocketed Rs 70 lakh (INR 7 million) which means that there will be a straightaway increase of Rs 30 lakh. The second placed team will get INR 6 million (Rs 60 lakh) and team placed third will get INR 4 million (Rs 40 lakh) respectively. Fourth placed team will take home INR 2.5 million while winners of each match will get an additional prize money of Rs 50,000.

Subsidies will also be increased keeping the clubs’ interest in mind. Travel subsidy will be raised to INR 4.5 million and match-day subsidy will be increased to INR 1 Lakh which will see a rise of INR 30,000 from last season.

After a gap of one year, the AIFF in all likelihood will bring back the country’s blue riband tournament Federation Cup, which is expected to be held after the end of the I-League in May, 2016. The decision was taken by the I-League committee after the representatives of the major clubs also agreed in unison.

The AIFF had scrapped the tournament from its calender during the current season as it was felt that the tournament has lost its sheen due to the co-existence of the I-League and the Indian Super League.

“It has informally been decided that the AIFF is likely re-start the Federation Cup from May 2016 after the conclusion of the I-league. It has been decided that Federation Cup will be a month-long affair rather than being a 10-day thing which has been the norm. It will be held on home and away knock-out basis,” an AIFF source present at the meeting said.

The logic behind bringing back Federation Cup into its calender is because the I-League will be reduced to 9 teams from this season after Royal Wahingdoh’s pull-out. “Look, if it is a 9-team I-League, then each team will play only 16 I-League matches. That is an insufficient number. Now to play the qualifying rounds of the AFC Champions League, a club needs to play a minimum of 18 matches in a year,” the source said.

“So Federation Cup will be an 8-team affair. So at least 8 teams will get a chance to play 18 matches. The 9th team of I-League in any case will be relegated. The decision to have a one-month Federation Cup was taken by AIFF Academy Director Scott O'Donell’s recommendation. It was seconded by senior vice-president Subrata Dutta,” the source added.

It was also decided that that there will be no marquee player concept for the upcoming I-League edition. The number of foreign recruits will be simple 3+1 formula with one player being of Asian quota.