Dehli SA 'risking loss' of AFC Vision India project

The Delhi Soccer Association is reportedly running the risk of losing its part of the Asian Football Confederation'sVision India Project. "The signals being sent out of Delhi Soccer Association's poorly-conducted, often-fractious Super League, underway here from January 17, are not being received well in the AFC corridors, and very soon Delhi could find itself staring at an unenviable 'withdrawn status'," Garima Verma wrote for India Times.

Last December the AFC director of national association and clubs development, Brendon Menton, said, “I won’t say the Delhi project has been disappointing, but it has been rather slow. There are valid reasons for it but that can be worked around. I hope the next year would be better than the last." Now, however, a Project Delhi Progess Report is said to claim that the "implementation part of the project is behind the schedule due to lack of proper coordination among various stakeholders."

"It was decided that DSA will allot each club a home ground and they themselves will organise the matches," Delhi's Vision program chief co-ordinator Syed Nasir Ali told India Times. Not only were the 10 clubs to get appearance money and prize money for winning each match but DSA also had to provide an appropriate insurance and proper refreshments to the players. "However, DSA officials ignored the proposals and went ahead with the super league in the old format — now the matches are being played to empty galleries," Garima Verma commented.

According to All India Football Federation sources, the deadline to implement this project is August 2007, the phase by which a revamped Delhi Soccer Association Elite League should get underway. India Times sources claim that what appears to be a last-minute derailment of the idea is a case of petty oneupmanship and infighting in the DSA. "The DSA is not planning at all. They are a divided body. This was not the time to hold a league in the first place, but no one seems to listen. They feel holding the league itself will solve the problem," said the source.

"We have to finish the league with the same sponsor we started with," reasoned DSA secretary NK Bhatia. "Moreover, the clubs are not financially strong enough for organising matches all by themselves." However one of the league sponsors, SAIL, is already the title sponsor of the Project . "It is not tough at all to find a sponsor in Delhi," countered a Project official.

"After having seen the glorious years of Delhi football when there used to be an entry ticket and still we played to packed galleries, we feel sad to see the wasted chance to reinstate that glory," said former India and Simla Youngs player Arunesh Sharma.