India’s Football Merger Has Some Problems


India will no longer be the only country in
the world operating two top-tier football leagues. In a meeting held at the Asian Football
Confederation headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, on 14 October 2019, a plan to reform club
football was proposed and agreed upon. The Indian Super League will now be awarded
top-tier status. The All India Football Federation’s national football league, the I-League, will
be the second tier, with the provision of a five-year process proposed to ‘merge’ the
two leagues. Additionally, the 2019-20 ISL champions will
now be granted a place in the AFC Champions League playoffs, while the I-League champions
will go to the playoffs of the AFC Cup, as a “special compensation”. By the end of the 2020-21 season, two I-league
clubs will be able to join the ISL and from the 2022-23 season onwards, the winner of
the I-League will be promoted to the ISL, on the condition that the AIFF’s “merit and
national club licensing criteria” is met. Finally, a fully functioning promotion and
relegation system between the ISL and I-League will be properly established in time for the
2023-24 season. There will be no relegation until this season. Despite the benefits of the restructuring,
experts have, however, already identified several potential issues. In the future, the promoted I-League clubs
will not have to pay a franchise fee to join the ISL. But this will also mean that those
teams will not be entitled to a share of the ISL’s central revenue, a concern considering
the costs of participation. For example, Bengaluru FC’s operating expenses doubled when the club
moved from I-League to the ISL and, In the long run, this decision could prove prohibitive
to the survival of I-league clubs in the ISL. If they survive until then, that is. The AIFF
was unable to finalise a broadcaster for the current season until mid-November, meaning
that it began two weeks later, and while DSport agreed to broadcast the competition, there
were plenty of problems on the inaugural matchday – from total blackouts, to footage having
to be filmed on mobile phone cameras. The viewing experience so far has been poor. It’s expected that the two clubs who could
move to the ISL by the end of the 2020-21 season are Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, with
the size of their respective fanbases potentially making them strong candidates. But if the
two biggest clubs left the I-League leave, what would then happen to the competition? Sponsorship revenue, which is already declining,
would likely dwindle further and the remaining clubs would be weaker as a community. The
perception of the league would also clearly be damaged. This does not mean the ISL is invulnerable,
though, despite it being the fourth most-watched league in the world, after the Premier League,
La Liga, and Bundesliga. Before ISL was officially declared as the
top tier of Indian football, a 2018 KPMG Football Benchmark report said that a key issue which
needed addressing was the competition’s business model, which the report called “a
unique case in point in modern football”. Because the broadcaster Star India is a co-owner
of the league, the ISL is unable to sell its broadcasting rights to other media companies.
As a result, its franchises are unable to generate any income from television which,
in the report’s eyes, “is undoubtedly one of the biggest hurdles on their road to
sustainability,” The importance of broadcast revenue in club
football is well established. English Premier League Clubs receive 46% to 88% of their total
income from TV and broadcast rights, depending on the team in question, and that equates
to the largest income source for most. It’s especially important for the smaller clubs
with lower commercial, merchandising and match-day incomes. With no TV and broadcast rights, ISL clubs
earn from their share of the central sponsorship revenue, individual sponsorships, match-day
ticketing, merchandise and player transfers. ISL’s partnership with Hero is the most noteworthy
for the central sponsorship revenue. The automobile giant signed a deal worth $ 8
million for three years in 2014, which increased significantly to $25 million for three seasons
starting in 2017. But ISL’s initial 20% estimate on how much of the central sponsorship revenue
would have to be utilised for organisation was under-estimated, meaning a lower pool
was distributed to the teams. According to an HT report from 2015: “… Nothing
from the central sponsorship pool, said to be worth around Rs 70 crore, came to the franchises.
The league is supposed to take 20% (for) operational expenses but the rest wasn’t ploughed back
to the teams as promised. A spokesperson for the ISL said that happened because a huge
amount was spent in getting the venues ready.” More recent numbers aren’t too encouraging
either. According to Mint’s analysis, in 2017-18, only one franchise reported a pre-tax profit:
the JSW-owned Bengaluru FC. Nine of the ten ISL franchisees registered losses. Kolkata’s
ATK reported a net loss of Rs 53.5 crore. Revealingly, NorthEast United’s annual report
showed that the club actually paid more as a participation fee to the ISL than they received
from the central pool. The spending by football fans in India is
also a barrier to matchday and merchandising revenues. Despite season ticket prices as
low as Rs 1400, Mumbai City FC could only attract an average of 4,742 people to their
matches at the Mumbai Football Arena, despite its capacity of 18,000. As per figures correct
in January 2020, the competition’s average is also just 15,127, with five of its ten
teams drawing an average of less than 10,000 fans to their home games. The merger of two leagues could become a positive
development and international investors have started to see potential profitability in
Indian football. The City Football Group’s recent acquisition of the majority stake in
Mumbai City FC is an example. Although now dissolved, Atletico Madrid’s three-year
partnership with Atletico de Kolkata was another, so too Pune City’s relationship with Fiorentina
and Delhi Dynamos’ association with Feyenood. Most recently, FC Basel of Switzerland purchased
a 26% stake in the I-League’s Chennai City, although it remains to be seen how this might
be affected by the competition’s receding status. Indian football has potential, though, and
that continues to be recognised from abroad. But the challenges remain and sustainability
continues to be a problem without an answer.

100 thoughts on “India’s Football Merger Has Some Problems

  1. India has lot of football fans, but not a football culture. But it needs to be seen if we do get it in future.
    More incentives should be given to clubs, players and benefits to fans (Low ticket prices) but its not happening as of now.

  2. Could u please make a vedio on suggestions that could make indian ⚽️ better plsss🙏
    If an idea is there we can work on it to make changes….

  3. The attendances in ISL are low because the Star the fucking broadcaster forces the schedule to have a match daily, a match on Monday won't get much attendance, and these attendance figures will keep decreasing.
    Yes a match daily has definitely increasing TV viewership, but it affects the growth of fan bases on ground. And acc. To me if all clubs could get 10000 average attendance every match than ISL can easily become sustainable.
    But this will only happen when matches are not scheduled daily and only on weekends plus Fridays.
    But this can only happen when star goes as a broadcaster and this might happen when the 10 year deal ends, Hopefully 🤞

  4. Problem with Indian football .
    1. 95% of the population doesn't care about football.
    2. The regions where football is popular are too far apart from one another. I.e.. Goa on the west coast. Kerala on the southern tip. West Bengal in the East . .and the North East region . This poses a big problem since India is a vast country .
    3. The newly formed league ISL is what can be called a plastic league with plastic Clubs . Clubs without any history that were formed through the power of massive cash injection and nothing else .
    .
    The right way to promote football in India would be if there were huge investment in the already existing League and the old Clubs that have history and massive fan following.

  5. Merge the leagues, merge the clubs, sound administration, attracting foreign investments & exotic signings will do. Friendlies with top foreign clubs (specially those who have partnerships or shares in Indian Clubs) will also help both big foreign clubs & Indian clubs to increase their fan base in big Indian market.

  6. The problem is AIFF is just a doll of Ambani . They dont have time to think grassroot inprovement of indian talented youngstars , they are simply lacks brain and backbone .

  7. I League is still the top flight and better League for me, it has better fanbase and better platform for homegrown players despite AIFF negligence.
    Its sad that AIFF sold themselves to IMG-R.

  8. The main problem with any sport in India is Cricket became a religion in here and a curse to other sports, as it gets more spotlight, money and attention of the parents. Although many Cricketers realised the issue and started supporting/endorsing other sports, still things are more or less the same. Reliance (and the Ambanis) figuratively bought the AIFF so they can start ISL a franchise based tournament instead of real clubs and from the beginning they weakened clubs from the I-league, specially smaller clubs. So they can marketize the Indian football to get the big bucks in the long run. Clubs like Mohun Bagan and East Bengal may have a chance of survival because their huge fanbases and their almost a century old rivalry, that has the potential to generate more subscription/money for ISL but other clubs aren't that lucky. Only good thing about ISL that some parents started to think football as a career is not bad for their kids but it's still not enough to increase supply enough youth players in order to increase the competition within the sport in India unless they increase the payscale of footballers. Other than that it's full of problems like infrastructure, youth development, lack of good scouts, lack of professionalism from the clubs/franchise (there are only a few exceptions like Bengaluru FC now and Dempo in the past). The disinterest/negligence of authority figures for football in India is criminal. All they do is what the sponsors (Reliance) asked them to do in order to get money from them in order to consolidate their position in the AIFF. If USA can popularize football in their country which was previously heavily dominated by Basketball, Baseball and American Football, so can India. But nothing can thrive in here as long as there's an accord going on between corrupt bureaucrats and sneaky capitalists.

  9. Indian football has had "potential" for the last 40 years or so, but they've done fuck all with all the investment. Their biggest achievement during that time was beating an out-of-sorts Thailand team in the last Asian Cup, then finishing bottom of their group.

  10. I league is Club football which existed for many years.
    ISL is a franchise Football like NBA. Shame that money based ISL is killing the historic club football which existed for many years and made it second tier

  11. As an Indian who loves football more than any other sports it hurts me to know this type of footballing system.
    When I See European clubs I find their name as Liverpool,Bayern Munich,Arsenal ,Barcelona,AC Milan etc.
    When I look at Indian clubs I find their name as Indian Arrows,Mahindra United,Churchill Brothers,Dempo etc.
    Their names also don't appeal masses to support them. Even East Bengal have a company name Quess EB. People need to have emotion attached from their place to club based there.
    Not many people will support these corporate clubs who just don't intend to appeal to the masses.

  12. Lol I remember years ago playing a football video game and decided to try and play in India, joining a club there, and couldn't understand why their second division also sent clubs to international competitions xd. Now I know it was another first tier, unrelated. Huh.

  13. Sack Praful Patel as the head of AIFF…he is corrupt and doesn't know shit about football.Only former players / someone who has contributed to the game must be allowed to be the president…..!!!!!

    Shame on you Mr.Patel

  14. Indian league football won't prosper in the long run because of how limited it is.

    Football is for and by the people, and the ISL simply gives rise to big money spenders running the show. Older, much more dedicated I-League teams have lost their charm, whatever tiny bit they had, and the ISL teams haven't caught the grasp of the local public, apart from football fans.

    India needs a state based league system that focuses more on local rivalries and awareness, along with tax benefits to clubs that are officially formed and registered as a business.

    Another relief would be subsidy for club operations and bonuses shared equally in a league.

    If you see from a local standpoint, you always have people playing on artificial turf and football fields, no matter how messy they are. Turf football business makes a lot. People are interested in the sport, but not the way it is presented.

  15. I always wondered how come we never say any Indians in European football? Like never neither their national team has been on any major competitons.

  16. Really nice video and some good insights but also should point out PUNE City FC has dissolved and the florentina deal has fallen flat.

  17. This would be an example of what would happen if there is a pro/rel system in the MLS, the Indian Super League have a MLS system of closed league with franchises.

  18. You know what happened in Indian football??? That's called chutiyapa (fucked up mess). When ISL (Indian Super league) introduced back at 2014. It was super hit. It continued to super hit till 2017. But then they changed the pattern of the game. They stretched the season to ~3 months from 49 days. From 2017 the popularity decreases rapidly. Because the harsh truth is that in India cricket is very very popular than football. And simply the new extended schedule clashes with the cricket schedules. And also kabaddi and badminton also very popular and ISL clashed with them.
    And then the total fucked up condition is ISL was never meant for club based league rather a temporary entertainment football league. Already Delhi Dynamos leaved.
    AIFF should dissolve the ISL immidietly and introduce a well prepared and proper league in which the participation of the Old I-league clubs are there.

  19. So true, AIFF FSDL and Ambani are destroting the football structure just to honour their contract for bags of 💰. No f** guven to the development of the sport

  20. This is an attempt to slowly and steadily kill the I-league which has been there for decades.. ISL wasn't even there 10yrs ago.. Money power over the spirit and history of the game.. Football as a game is dying everywhere in the world.. It's become a business

  21. Mumbai Football Arena has a maximum capacity of 8,000 according to Google. I don't understand how papers manage to report 18,000 seats there

  22. the problem is,the people who are in power are doing all this for only money and nothing else. For the corporations, all they can see is money and nothing else, those who actually care about the infrastructure and the future of the sport are far and few. Another problem is that football in the mainstream in India has started recently on the basis of its profitability and commercial popularity in the world and some parts of india and not because we indians are die hard fans of the sport. Instead of rushing into this and make it another money making machine, we should focus on the infrastructure of the sport in schools, colleges, academies, camps etc. Football needs its own space.

  23. As a long time fan of Indian football the isl(reliance) is just trying to kill the i league which is sad. I stopped watching Indian football after the circus ISL came to town. Their only intention is minting money and nothing else. They should have just revamped the i league and saved the clubs in the ileague already on the verge of disappearance. It's sad to see clubs like JCT etc once big names in Indian football disappear from the footballing map.

  24. Both isl n I league is shitty worthLess league. No quality players ,extra greedy organizers n franchises plus no proper plan. Nobody watches isl or either hyped for it like any team would be in maybe a Indonesia or japans football league which ain’t popular. Stadiums r bad n overall experience of play n product offered ain’t good. Ipl is a example. When u have half empty stadiums in big bash ipl u won’t get seats because product is better. Better players better promotion better stadiums n professionalism needed not Nita ambani smiling with a bunch of players

  25. Isl footballing structure is too complex.isl having atleast 16 or so participants would make it have a longer period of football therefore keeping it up on level with other leagues.also domestic cup competitions should be at the same time as the league and not after the conclusion of the league.

  26. Dogshit management. Indian football is going down the drain. AIFF went for quick money with the ISL shit (and to appease sponsors like Ambani madarchod, I hope he dies off AIDS) without focussing on the league structure. India has a large league pyramid structure but no one seems to have the patience to create a 4 tier pro/semipro league system at the top with 80-100 clubs, which would be enough to cover a country this large.

  27. They should have merge it into a 20 team league IMO (or make something like two groups of 10 team each and then top 4 each go for finals competition maybe) now one of the league suffer tremendously…

  28. Now i am 200% sure there is someone indian in your writing team. A big channel like you covering indian football news is like indians covering japanese cricket. Indian football is of least quality. They loose to side like Bangladesh and Afghanistan

  29. Thank you tifo, what a incredible analysis . It’s a shame the Indians don’t go to watch ISL matches . We need better setup

  30. I league teams like Gokulam Kerala FC are having pretty decent attendence in every match. They have passionate fans and TV viewers.

  31. Correct me if I'm wrong, but at around 5:20 it is stated that a club from Mumbai's average tickets costed 1400 rupies (fourteen hundred). I made the currency convertion and compared to brazilian teams, and this Indian team would have the most expensive tickets in the league(by far!). The video treated it as very low prices, but outside of Europe, the US, and very few other countries, it is not. Perhaps they'd need bigger stadiums with lower prices, but that depends on how much stadium maintenance costs in India.

  32. I can see as a possible outcome of this situation that the most important clubs will create a new league (which in a couple of years would become the most important one), thus saying a big "fuck you" to the current broadcaster/co-owner of the current top tier league.

  33. the ISL stands completely exposed.
    this is what happens when a private entity having no knowledge of running football but having a lot of greed wants to create a MONOPOLY

  34. My condolences to the situation Indian football finds itself in, but c'mon. No disrespect, but Indian football was never top-tier. C'mon now.

  35. The thing is, all of these problems would be solved if the investments were focused on grassroot development of players instead of creating a brand. Although ISL pulls big numbers in viewership, the quality of football is utter trash. So, why would people bother paying 1400 ruppees (which can be a lot for a regular middle class person to spend) for tickets to a garbage and mostly boring game of football? There are no proper selection processes and a lot of politics comes into play adding to the fact that there is no attention given to proper scouting.

  36. who the fuck cares about indian football 🤣🤣🤣," yanda aaye wunna pilay futtabol " 🤣🤣🤣 bloody racist jingoistic cunts

  37. There's no way ISL and I League merger is gonna work ! First of all the money received goes on filing their own (AIFF) pockets . Secondly the crowd ! 1400 bucks is way too expensive for an average middle class person in India and overall this league does not attract any big players.

  38. You could also make a video on Pakistan's Football history and the problems it has faced like getting barred by Fifa

  39. It's India thinking it's a big footballing country when it's not. The ISL honeymoon was long over by the time Teddy Sheringham packed his bags, let alone the likes of Nicholas Anelka and David James.

  40. Indians play football? I thought all they played was that shitty baseball knockoff where you play for 5 days only to draw the match

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