The Goal 2011 plan, an ambitious proposal by the All India Football Federation (AIIF), has put the country's top clubs on a warpath with the governing body. Clubs have reacted with dismay and apprehension to the AIIF's proposal and most believe the plan would be detrimental to the game in the country. Under the scheme, the AIFF plans to bar 25 of the country's top players from participating in the league and instead prepare them for the 2011 Asian Cup.
The two-year plan, proposed by the national coach Bob Houghton and ratified by the AIFF, would see the federation paying player a fee equal to what they currently receive from their clubs. According to reports, the plan is expected to cost the AIFF about Rs400million (DH28.4m) and only needs a few final touches by the AIFF's development committee before it is launched. India's British coach Houghton has told the AIFF that players would need extensive and uninterrupted training in the run-up to the Asian Cup in Doha.
The top I-League Clubs, however, have indicated that they would pose strong resistance to the plan. The Dempo coach Armando Colaco said the plan would detract from the I-League. "The I-League was started with the purpose to bring the cream of Indian football together," Armando said. "With this [project] they are taking the sheen away from India's premier competition. My team would be badly affected."
Mohun Bagan general secretary Anjan Mitra was more caustic with his remarks. "The AIFF can't manage five players, how are they going to handle 25? It's ridiculous," he said. * PA Sport