Alam Zeb Safi – The News
KARACHI: Pakistan Football Federation’s decision to centralise the country’s premier tournament – Premier League — has irked clubs based in Baluchistan.
“It’s a conspiracy against us. There are officials of a few departments who are giving wrong suggestions to the PFF. The decision to make the Premier League only limited to Lahore and Karachi is tantamount to uprooting club culture,” an official of a club said.
“By doing so they want these clubs relegated and to limit the league only to departments,” he added.
“PFF should have given advantage to the clubs instead of putting them in trouble. How would Balochistan-based clubs be able to meet the huge expenses during their stay in Lahore and Karachi,” a club official questioned.
The standard of football in Balochistan is good as mostly the cream of the country’s top lot come from the province.
The game is vigorously followed by people particularly in Chaman, a scenic town bordering Afghanistan’s Kunar province. There are three outfits from Chaman including Afghan FC, Muslim FC and newly-promoted Pak Afghan Clearing Agency (PACA) and Baloch FC from Nushki which will be featuring in the Premier League starting next month.
The gate money during Premier League matches was the sole source of income for these clubs during the event. And after having deprived them from their right to play their Premier League matches at their own backyard it would now be very difficult for these outfits to survive.
“If the system of selling tickets is regularised then up to Rs150, 000 per match could be raised through gate money. Otherwise, normally up to Rs60,000 per match is not difficult to be made by charging the fans,” a club official conceded.
After getting the Premier League centralised, a club would have to bear around Rs2 million expenses on the season while playing all their matches in Lahore and Karachi.
“Although we have a budget of Rs500,000 we had earned through gate money last year and around Rs300,000 will be given by the PFF but from where will the remaining amount come through which we could play the season in Karachi and Lahore,” a club manager said.
Chaman-based outfits used to play their home matches at the Government High School Ground. The venue was dropped as a Premier League centre because of the quality of the pitch and its insecure status. Mali Bagh Ground Quetta is expected to be prepared by growing grass on it but it is unlikely that the PFF would allot matches to the centre for the next season.
An official of a club said that in a last-ditch effort they would also request the PFF to give them matches at Loralai which has a good ground.
Moreover, the PFF has also made it mandatory for the head coaches of the Premier League teams to be AFC License B holders and the rules have also aggravated the miseries of the clubs.
“We cannot hire License B coaches. The departments have resources and they can do it but we are unable to do so and the PFF should give us an exemption,” said a club official.
“We also fear whether our players will be able to spend three or four months with the teams in Lahore and Karachi as we cannot give them enough money in return for their services,” he said.
In order to reduce the number of teams in the 2014 Premier League the PFF has also decided that six teams instead of two will be relegated to the PFF League (B Division) this season. It’s always worth checking out the latest relegation odds at sports.bwin.com/en/live.
The clubs also criticised the PFF for ignoring FIFA rules for not holding the Premier League on a home-and-away basis.
“Hosts normally get advantage and sometimes even weak hosts beat strong visitors and it makes the event interesting. The PFF has centralised the league while it will tell the AFC that the league is being held on home and away basis,” a club official said.
“If security fears have forced the authorities to deprive Balochistan of the Premier League matches then why have they chosen Karachi as a centre despite its volatile security status,” a club coach pointed out.