ISL-Premier League likely to form panel for player, referee development

The renewed agreement will work towards developing India's home-grown youth and professional players and improving the standards of refereeing.

Mrs Nita Ambani, Chairperson Football Sports Development Ltd and Mr Richard Mastres, Chief Executive, Premier League exchanging pennant as part of ISL-PL partnership agreement signed today.   -  Special Arrangement

The renewal of the co-operation agreement between the Indian Super League (ISL) and the Premier League (PL) is likely to see the leagues set up a programme to develop India's home-grown youth and professional players.  

It is learnt that the two leagues might form a plan, similar to the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) launched by Premier League in 2012. The EPPP was formed to develop more and better home-grown youth players across three phases from the U-19 to the U-23 level. 

Coaches from the Manchester United, Chelsea and Southampton, which participated in the PL-ISL Next Generation Mumbai Cup, have been working alongside staff from Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) who look after match officials, to help enhance the skills of coaches and referees.

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It is also learnt that the PGMOL is likely to work with Indian officials to help improve the standard of refereeing.  

The refereeing in the ISL has come under scrutiny in the ongoing season with several players and coaches have been coming in hard on the officials for some high profile errors. Both the EPPP and the PGMOL plans are in the tentative stages and are likely to be finalised soon. 

Both Nita Ambani, chairperson of Football Sports Development Limited, and Richard Masters, Premier League chief executive, confirmed to the media of the signing of the co-operative agreement on Friday.

Masters stressed that the priority of the agreement is for India to have a strong domestic league. He said, "For the next three years, we are concentrating on youth, coach and refereeing development. That means we will swap notes, we will help people who are involved here. We will commingle our clubs, we will bring ISL clubs to the UK and talk to them about it - sharing knowledge and best practice. We will do all we can to assist the ISL."

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Ambani revealed talks are ongoing to bring top PL U-23 teams to India to play in the PL U-23 Asia Cup. "I have requested Richard if the Premier League Asia Cup U-23 can be held in India. That would be a big boost for Indian football," she said. Replying to a query on whether Indian clubs will have their pre-season in England, Masters said, "Yes. Some of the ISL clubs have already visited England and our clubs, and we are going to continue that so that they can come across and experience a bit of the Premier League." 

Commenting on FC Goa's qualification for the AFC Champions League group stage for next season, Masters said, "It [qualification] gives extra exposure to the club, the league and the country it comes from. It [regular participation in continental tournaments] also helps with player development. Our English clubs and English-qualified players benefit from playing in the UEFA Champions League because of it's high standards."

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