There is good and bad news for Indian football fans who try to follow their respective clubs in the ongoing I-League on television. Finally there will be ensured coverage until the end of the I-League in May 2011, but it will be on Bengali TV channel Mahua Bangla and they will only follow the progress of the three Kolkata sides East Bengal Club, Mohun Bagan AC and Chirag United SC in their respective home and away matches.
Mahua Bangla is said to have paid around Rs 120 Million (12 Crores) for the rights for the remainder of the 2010/11 I-League season. The channel will start their coverage of the I-League on Sunday, February 6 with the Mohun Bagan vs. East Bengal derby. The match is set to kickoff at 15.30 IST at the Saltlake Stadium.
An AIFF source told agencies, "Mahua Media Private Limited has bagged the right to telecast the remaining 14 round I-League matches involving the three Kolkata sides from sponsors IMG-Reliance."
It is a good step that a channel has come forward to show India's top football league, but sadly it once more is only a regional Bengali TV channel and not a pan-Indian sports broadcaster. And that would have been the need of the hour to ensure national coverage.
From what I gather the focus of IMG-Reliance together with the All India Football Federation is on the next season and have everything in place before the start of the 2011/12 I-League, which will also be fully professional under the AFC Club Licencing Criteria.