While football leagues world-over are played in a particular format with every team getting chance to have a go at every other side, JK’s football governing authorities have ‘distorted’ the format by dividing the league into groups.
“JKFA, without checking into pros and cons of the decision, a few years back, changed the format of its annual league football events which include Super Division, A-Division and B-Division leagues. Though the name has been retained as ‘league’ but the format has been changed into ‘group’ wherein teams have been divided into two groups in Super and A-Division leagues. In each group teams play against each other and the top two sides from both groups qualify for the semifinals. After that final is played through which the winner of the league is decided”, said a former footballer, ruing the fact that the league has been turned into a knockout affair.
“This format has a number of flaws and you cannot call the winner as the league champion. The league champion is the one who sustains the full event and emerges as top side among all teams in contention,” he added.
Another footballer, who did not wish to be named, said dividing the league into groups does not provide the flexibility, competition and chance to bounce back which the league provides. “In this format a single bad day can cost you the whole event while in league format this thing has been taken care of. If you play badly for a day or two you have got numerous chances to bounce back and outrun others. League is meant to test the team’s ability to the full and fluke has no chance in that,” he said.
“This format is full of loopholes and can’t be considered an ideal league like what is prevalent throughout the world. Idea of promotion and relegation loses its values in this format. Moreover some team get to play only tough opponents in the group while others get easier teams. Then even if you are winner of the group one off day in the semifinal or final can cost you championship. That puts whole idea of league into question. Even the relegated side doesn’t get full chance to prove its credentials in the group format,” said another former footballer.
Former footballer Nazir Ahmad Andrabi, opines that JKFA needs to involve experts while taking such important decisions and they should immediately go back to league format. “Our system is a joke in the name of league football. It is a tournament that has been divided into two groups. JKFA made the decision without taking the views of football experts into consideration. They did not look into what is prevalent throughout the world or country. Their only aim is to wind up the event quickly and still they fail to complete the event almost every year,” he said.
‘JKFA needs to have a rethink’
STAR international footballer from JK, Meharjuddin Wadoo says the football governing body in the state needs to rethink its decision to divide league football into groups.
Speaking to us, Wadoo, who currently plays in the Indian Super League (ISL): “This (current) format is not going to help us in developing the game in the State. J&K Football Association needs to think over it seriously and outlay a programme to reinstate the traditional football league”. “I agree due to some reasons for a season or two you can change format but in the longer run you have to play the whole league and not just two-group event. Outside J&K we play full league with home and away matches. However, in our state, teams get a chance to play against every other team in the league only, and JKFA shouldn’t rob them of that. Traditional leagues are designed with the aim to develop football in an overall fashion in a particular region,” he added.