PFF clueless about getting mileage from India series (DAWN)

By Mohammad Yaqoob

LAHORE: The Pakistan Football Federation (PFF), having finally got a great opportunity of sending the national team to England for a competitive three-match series against India, are still clueless about generating any revenue from the big tour as its officials are converging all their energies in engaging a private sponsor to provide them with free travelling and lodging facilities.

The high-profile series, proposed to be held at neutral venues of England in August-September this year, could fetch rich profits for the PFF since England have a big market for football besides having millions of Pakistani and Indian fans in the UK who are itching to watch the rival teams compete against each other.

According to the schedule, Pakistan will leave for England on August 24 to play their first match at Barry Town, Manchester, on August 28, the second on September 3 at the Coventry Club in Coventry and the last one in London on September 11.

“We are finalising the terms and conditions with a sponsor and are expecting a positive result in next couple of days,” PFF secretary Ahmad Yar Lodhi told Dawn.

When asked to elaborate on the terms and conditions, Lodhi said that they were simple as the federation just wanted a confirmed hotel booking and free travelling.

“The PFF wants to grab every opportunity for its footballers that provide them with a competitive game regardless of the generation of funds for the federation,” explained Lodhi.

Earlier, the two federations were keen to play the series in the first week of July but the Indian government did not give a go-ahead to the plans.

It is a known fact that the footballers are not highly paid professionals in Pakistan and since the PFF is not looking to generate any revenue through this much-awaited series, it could mean no great cash incentives for the players this time around as well.

The Pakistan team is not a formidable one at the moment, especially after their less-than-impressive show against Bangladesh which is considered a much weaker side compared to India.

Lodhi, however, rejected the impression that the time was not right for the struggling Pakistan team to play India.

“We want to play against India and would put aside any fear of defeat or any other political factor as PFF’s prime aim is to provide opportunity to our footballers to play competitive football,” he asserted.