Even as the deadlock over the proposed IPL-style football tournament persists, former England and Manchester United defender Gary Pallister on Tuesday called it a "great initiative" and wants the stakeholders of Indian football to support it.
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) and its commercial partner IMG-Reliance are set to launch the Indian Premier League-inspired league in January next year, which will see a mix of some top foreign and Indian players competing on the same platform for over three months.
"I am big cricket fan. I have watched the IPL. It's a great idea, great initiative that should be backed. But whether it works for football, only time will tell. It depends on how it is received. Hopefully, it will get the backing," Pallister said.
Pallister had a nine-year spell at Manchester United from 1989 to 1998. He also played for Middlesbrough and Darlington and appeared in England colours for 22 times between 1988 and 1996.
The AIFF-IMG's proposal, however, has not gone down well with the I-League clubs, who under I-League Professional Football Clubs Association (IPFCA), have decided not to release their players or take any one associated with the tournament on loan.
Pallister was in the capital in connection with the 'Airtel Rising Stars' soccer talent hunt programme.
Asked about speculations about United's star striker Wayne Rooney's departure from Old Trafford, Pallister was hopeful that the player would stay.
"Hopefully, Rooney will stay at United. He is a world-class player. At 27 he is at the peak of his career. Hope he continues to help the team win more trophies. Everyone at the club and the fans want Wayne to be playing here next season," he said.
"United will definitely not like to sell him," the 48-year-old added.