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Jan 29, 2013

Indian football league scrapped

An Indian professional football league - based along the same lines of the franchise-based Indian Premier League cricket tournament - has been scrapped due to logistical problems.

The tournament was set to feature a cast of veteran players including former Chelsea and AC Milan striker Hernan Crespo, Italy's World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro, former Arsenal winger Robert Pires and ex-Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler alongside locally-produced footballers.

The league was originally planned to take place in February-March 2012, only to be postponed indefinitely.

"The main reasons for not pursuing the project further were logistics like the unavailability of stadia and the backing out of some of the franchises for commercial reasons,'' IFA secretary-general Utpal Ganguly told The Associated Press. "Besides, the timing of the league was not suitable for foreign players.''

Anilava Chatterjee of private firm Grey Mind went further, blaming the lack of infrastructure in India for the problems.

"We were told there were problems in getting grounds, especially in the smaller districts and the project was thus aborted,'' Chatterjee told AP.

The idea of a league isn't completely dead, however. Celebrity Management Group, an event management firm which was a partner in the failed project, is considering a new proposal at a future date.

And due to a 15-year sponsorship deal worth $140 million that was struck between the All Indian Football Federation and IMG-Reliance in 2010 it remains a lucrative market to exploit.

"We were organising the tournament on behalf of the IFA,'' CMG executive director Bhaswar Goswami told AP. "After the initial planning, IFA decided not to go ahead with the project. But we are planning another project together, almost on the same lines.''

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