I could not agree less with Henry Menezes (http://www.goal.com/en-india/news/136/india/2009/07/07/1368132/what-are-the-opportunities-for-clubs-to-sustain-themselves).
During 2006-2008, when the AFC Pro-League committee conducted their assessment of the various National leagues, India was ranked at No. 13 on the basis of the football competitiveness, professionalism, marketability, and financial status of the league and its clubs, etc. The committee also highlighted areas of concern and gaps that need to be rectified. The assessment ranking will be updated every two years, i.e., the next evaluation will be in 2010. Wonder what progress the I-League (read AIFF) management has done in enhancing the ranking. Countries ranked below us are eager to make the big league and definitely working on it!!
The clubs and the federation has a long way to go in terms of professionalism....starting with having a professional management at both league and club level. The management team running the league and the respective clubs need to dwell further into the sustainability of the sport in India. But then its a chicken and egg story here!! - what comes first - sponsorship or quality? It needs to be simultaneous. If major sponsors need to be brought in...there needs to be a strong business plan...a palatable commercial package for sponsors to be enticed.
We keep boasting about the $70 million for 10 years deal with Zee Sports/TEN Sports for television coverage. Is that a fair deal considering I-League is a 8 month long schedule? Without underestimating the revenue spinning potential of IPL (Indian Premier League), SONY pays around $1.8 billion for ten years for broadcasting rights. Can't football in India provide enough value to get a package that is worth at least 20% of what IPL gets?
Now imagine passing on part of the revenue earned from sponsorship and broadcasting rights to the clubs involved just like any other league in the world. With money being flushed in to the clubs, the value add they provide would also go up considerably resulting in better deals from sponsors and broadcasters.
In Enland, the English Cricket Board contracts about 25 players every year. But these players also turn out for their county teams just like any other professional player on the county team. Now can't the AIFF implement a similar system whereby, everybody gains - the country, federation, clubs and the players.
I-League needs a professional management team with fresh ideas (not just from the football world...but any sports or any industry that can be implemented and can work!) and a strong management background...a CEO to start with. By the way, what is management? I checked up the dictionary: Management comprises planning, organizing, staffing, leading or directing, and controlling an organization (a group of one or more people or entities) or effort for the purpose of accomplishing a goal...Blah Blah Blah!
Well well well...end of the day...management is all about sustainability.