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5-min read

AIFF Responds After I-League Clubs Threaten to Move Court if ISL Gets Top Division Status

AIFF said I-League clubs assuming any future action of the AIFF was 'premature and unnecessary' and cautioned the clubs against 'vicious and malicious social media campaign'.

News18 Sports

Updated:June 24, 2019, 9:29 PM IST
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AIFF Responds After I-League Clubs Threaten to Move Court if ISL Gets Top Division Status
AIFF responded to I-League clubs' threat of taking them to the Court. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
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New Delhi: The All India Football Federation (AIFF) released a statement in response to the joint-statement by seven I-League clubs that they will take the legal route if AIFF demotes their league the clubs to the second division of Indian football.

Earlier on Monday, I-League clubs - Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Churchill Brothers, Minerva Punjab FC, Aizawl FC, NEROCA and Gokulam Kerala FC - released a joint statement saying that they will not accept being told that "I-League will no longer be the TOP LEAGUE" and if AIFF takes such a decision in their Executive Committee meeting on July 3, 2019, they are ready to approach "Appropriate Courts for relief".

AIFF, in response, has stated that "it is very premature and unnecessary to pre-judge any action of the AIFF."

AIFF further cleared its stance that it would be "unfair" to say that the future of I-League and its clubs "will not be taken into consideration for any future decision."

AIFF has further made it clear that the federation is in constant dialogue with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and world body FIFA over any decision being taken for Indian football.

"In fact, during the last AFC AGM in Paris, the AIFF asked the AFC General Secretary Fato Windsor John to visit India specifically for Hero I-League issues," AIFF said in its statement.

AIFF further said that it has spoken to its commercial partners Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) about the concerns of the I-League clubs.

The entire matter between the I-League clubs and the AIFF started bubbling after it was announced that Star Sports will not be broadcasting all the matches of the second half of I-League season 2018-19.

Furthermore in February this year, I-League clubs wrote to AIFF president Praful Patel seeking a meeting with him to discuss their future and their inhibitions regarding the functioning of FSDL.

The I-League clubs alleged that they had received no response from the AIFF and said they would not participate in the Super Cup if the president does not meet them.

After the threat, AIFF general secretary Kushal Das informed the I-League clubs that Patel will meet them between April 10-14 but that meeting never happened.

Upon receiving Das' response, the I-League clubs had demanded the restart of Super Cup from the qualifiers so that Minerva Punjab FC, Aizawl FC and Gokulam Kerala FC, who had not played the qualifiers in protest would not suffer.

AIFF refused to do the same and seven I-League clubs, barring champions Chennai City FC, Real Kashmir and Indian Arrows, boycotted the Super Cup for which they have received hefty fines.

Now, AIFF has said that it is surprised by the I-League clubs' accusation against Patel and it was them who did not meet the AIFF president.

"It is surprising that the clubs have accused the AIFF President about not giving them any audience for their grievances. In fact, the only time they sought an audience was before the commencement of Hero Super Cup, where they were duly informed that the AIFF President will meet them any day April 10-14, 2019, as the President had prior commitments for the FIFA Council Election on April 6 in Kuala Lumpur, as well as the Lok Sabha General Elections.

"Despite the assurance, the clubs did not meet the President, and rather pre-maturely pulled out of the Hero Super Cup, causing huge financial losses and negativity for a tournament for they had confirmed their participation. It must be mentioned that post pulling out of the Hero Super Cup, no appointment has been sought by the Clubs till date," AIFF stated.

Since the past two days, Minerva Punjab FC owner Ranjit Bajaj has taken to Twitter to release pages of AIFF's 'Master Rights Agreement' with IMG-Reliance back in 2010.

AIFF in its statement hinted at Bajaj's social media campaign, albiet without naming him, and called the move "vicious and malicious".

AIFF then cautioned the clubs against any such activity. "We would like to caution the clubs to refrain from unnecessary accusations, and advice them to engage meaningfully for the betterment of Indian Football."

FULL TEXT OF AIFF STATEMENT:

The AIFF reacting to the joint statement of Hero I-League clubs feel that it is very premature and unnecessary to pre-judge any action of the AIFF and be commenting on the AIFF Executive Committee meeting on July 3, 2019 in advance.

The AIFF as a custodian of Indian Football has always endeavoured to balance to the interest of all stakeholders, and the Hero I-League, and its clubs. To say that the future of Hero I-League, and the clubs will not be taken into consideration for any future decision of the AIFF would be unfair.

As a matter of fact, a decision regarding the Hero Indian Super League becoming a league were also discussed with AFC, and FIFA before it was given recognition, and even for any future decisions AFC and FIFA will be duly consulted. In fact, during the last AFC AGM in Paris, the AIFF asked the AFC General Secretary Fato Windsor John to visit India specifically for Hero I-League issues.

Furthermore, while the decision of the AIFF Executive Committee cannot be per-judged, it must also be borne in mind that AIFF has already spoken to its commercial partners FSDL about the concerns of the Hero I-League clubs.

It is surprising that the clubs have accused the AIFF President about not giving them any audience for their grievances. In fact, the only time they sought an audience was before the commencement of Hero Super Cup, where they were duly informed that the AIFF President will meet them any day April 10-14, 2019, as the President had prior commitments for the FIFA Council Election on April 6 in Kuala Lumpur, as well as the Lok Sabha General Elections.

Despite the assurance, the clubs did not meet the President, and rather pre-maturely pulled out of the Hero Super Cup, causing huge financial losses and negativity for a tournament for they had confirmed their participation. It must be mentioned that post pulling out of the Hero Super Cup, no appointment has been sought by the Clubs till date.

As a custodian of Indian Football, the AIFF and the President are always happy to engage with all stakeholders incuding I-League clubs for the betterment of Indian Football.

Needless to say some club owners have taken to a vicious and malicious social media campaign against the AIFF and its President. We would like to caution the clubs to refrain from unnecessary accusations, and advice them to engage meaningfully for the betterment of Indian Football.

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