Kushal Das, General Secretary of the All India Football Federation
AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das reveals huge amount of losses for the ISL sides in the first editionAIFF Media

There has always been an element of uneasiness among football clubs around the world when it comes to releasing players for international tournaments or national camps. India are no stranger to this as well.

Before the Indian Super League came into existence, I-League - the premier football club competition of India - used to be the barrier that prevented the Indian national football team from getting their hands on star players. The war between the respective clubs and the national team has been a common occurrence, and it is set to continue.

But, taking lessons from these past issues, the All India Football Federation (AIFF), as a precautionary measure, announced that they have agreed with the ISL clubs to allow players to be released for the national camps.

This year, the ISL kicks off on 3 October and ends with the final on 20 December, but in between, the India team have been slated to play in three 2018 World Cup pre-qualifiers.

"We (AIFF) have an understanding with the ISL clubs. They will be releasing players for all the camps as national coach Stephen Constantine decides," AIFF general secretary Kushal Das was quoted by Goal.

India host Iran on 8 September, while the following month they travel for a couple of away matches against Turkmenistan on 8 October and five days later to Oman, respectively. The final encounter in the calendar year will be the reverse fixture against Guam on 12 November.

Focussing back on the ISL, the first season of the lucrative league shattered television records in India and brought a plethora of sports fans from the comfort of their home to a jam-packed stadium, and the second season is expected to do the same.

But did the lucrative league turn out to be very profitable for the eight franchisees? Das doesn't think so.

The AIFF chief said that the loss for each franchisee skyrocketed to as much as ₹30-35 crore, and the loss of the organisers - IMG-Reliance - has been on a different level altogether.

With incredible figures of as many as 74.7 million television viewing figures on its launch day and a cumulative reach of 170.6 million in the first week itself, the ISL was regarded from all quarters as the fourth best attended league in the world.

However, the sides did have to swallow some losses after the inaugural season.

"The loss for each franchise ranges from Rs 30 to 35 crore, while tournament organisers (IMG-Reliance) had a deficit of Rs 100 crore," Das added.

The revelation did not come as too surprising for AIFF vice-president Subrata Datta, however. Citing the example of the cash-rich IPL, he said that it will take time to generate profits, but the "process has started" thanks to the immense reception the ISL received in the first season.

"Even when the IPL began, all the franchises did not make profit. All the ISL team owners were well aware that they would not make profit straightway but the good thing is that the process has started," Datta, also the IFA (Indian Football Association) president, mentioned.

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