PLS - A chance for Indian Football

There has been much talk about the newly created Premier League Soccer in recent weeks. I personally see the franchise-based league in West Bengal as a chance for Indian football to test a new format and learn from it - positives and negatives.

Lets be honest, an IPL-style football league has been on the cards for quite a while now. There has been so much talk about it that such a league was bound to come-up somewhere. The only thing is few would have expected a local state league like the PLS in West Bengal, but rather a revamped national league combining old I-League clubs and new franchises would be turned into such a football-IPL. The only thing people often forget is that a proper football league has to run to eight to 10 months, there are international transfer rules to follow plus many other small and large issues.

And there lies the problem. The Cricket-IPL format is a league of short duration just like the game of T20 cricket - a six to eight week league. Now that is difficult to test on the national stage in football. Only a strong and robust football market could be used for such a test. And there the only real option lies with West Bengal, then where else would companies spend crores on football in India?

Now we have the IPL-style football league in the PLS and though it is facing problems and hiccups, I hope it succeeds. Then I feel the PLS and I-League can co-exist, and could together strengthen the football system in India. A possible scenario for the future is that we could have further PLS' in three/four more states, which even the AIFF president Praful Patel has hinted at.

But I repeat one thing. We need a top tier league like the I-League for the professional game, then otherwise we would have our own entertainment product like the IPL, but we would detach ourselves from the global football system. And that is sure not what we will want to happen.

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