New Delhi: All India Football Federation's commercial right holders IMG-Reliance is set to present an ambitious roadmap for taking the game forward in the country in a crucial meeting to be attended by I-League club representatives in New Delhi on Thursday.

The officials of both the AIFF and IMG-Reliance are tight-lipped about the matter but it is learnt that contents of the blueprint prepared by the latter go beyond the much-talked about IPL-style football which has got lukewarm response from the clubs.

"It goes beyond the IPL-style football. The blueprint will touch every aspect of the game in the country, be it development of infrastructure, academies or the broadcast issues," a source in the know of the things told media on Wednesday.

"It is a big plan for the development of Indian football, how to plan to raise the profile of the game, how to market the game. Naturally it will involve a big amount of money.

It's like turning Indian football 360 degree," he said.

It is learnt that the IMG-Reliance was keen to involve itself in India hosting the Under-17 FIFA World Cup with the long-term aim being the country's qualification in the 2026 World Cup.

The AIFF has held some meetings with the IMG-Reliance on these proposals and both want the clubs to be stakeholders in this venture.

"Hosting Under-17 World Cup would be the right step for Indian football to move forward and the IMG-Reliance is interested in playing a part. The aim is India's qualification in 2026 World Cup," the source in the AIFF said.

"The IMG-Reliance also wants the game in the country to be pan-Indian as football is played in a big way in Kolkata and Goa only.

"But all these would be difficult to be implemented without the support of the clubs. So this blueprint will be discussed threadbare with the club representatives on Thursday," he said.

The club owners, on their part, were not responding favourably to the IPL-style football tournament which will be participated by retired or just-retired top footballers from Europe and South America as they think that it will sound a death knell to the I-League.

The clubs want to make the I-League to be a separate legal entity, an important ingredient for professionalising of Indian football under AFC guidelines.

In a meeting held here on Wednesday, owners of 13 clubs decided that they would press for making I-League a legal entity first before going forward.

"We have decided that I-League should be made a legal entity first. It has been long overdue and that would be our main issue in on Thursday's meeting," I-League Professional Football Clubs Association President Raj Gomes said after the meeting.

Regarding the IPL-style football proposed both by the IMG-Reliance and the AIFF, Gomes said, "Let them make the proposals first. We will need time to look into their proposals."

"We will also bring up the issue of adopting standard contracts for the players. This will protect the players when they signed the contracts," he added.

All the I-League clubs, except for Pailan Arrows, were present in the meeting.


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