hi INDiA Copyright 2022
Kolkata, Feb 19: Eight I-League clubs, including giants Quess East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, on Monday shot off a letter to All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel seeking an "urgent appointment" to discuss the future of teams after the ongoing season.
In the letter, sent to media by Mohun Bagan, eight clubs — Aizawl FC, Chennai City FC, Churchill Brothers, Gokulam Kerala, Minerva Punjab, Mohun Bagan, Neroca FC and Quess East Bengal — sought clarity from the apex body regarding their future.
It was earlier perceived that Quess East Bengal and Mohun Bagan were slated to join the Indian Super League (ISL) after the ongoing season and hence kept mum when all other clubs joined hands under the banner of I-League (Private) Clubs Association this year to protest against the telecast row.
But their U-turn was evident in the mail that was circulated with urgency and the language stern enough to put pressure on the national federation and its commercial and marketing partners.
"Recent news reports suggest this could be the last season for the I-League, with the ISL all set to be branded the top league of the country," the letter read.
The clubs demanded the proposed unified league should be run by the AIFF and not the Football Sports Development Ltd (FSDL), their commercial and marketing partners.
They also demanded I-League clubs should not be forcefully relegated to the second division due to restructuring of leagues.
Blaming the FSDL of conflict of interest, the letter said eight of its officials have been appointed to key committees of the AIFF and they lack required expertise.
The clubs also alleged the FSDL is exceeding its brief by taking part in the selection of the national team coach and other technical decisions.
"It is not clear why a non technical person from the marketing partner company will be a member of the AIFF technical committee," the letter said.
The clubs also raised the issue of defending champions Minerva Punjab FC being the worst-hit in the broadcast row where official broadcaster, Star Sports, had announced it will cut the television coverage to just 30 of the then remaining 61 matches.
The clubs urged the AIFF to share with them the report prepared by a committee, comprising Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and FIFA officials, regarding merger of ISL and I-League after interviewing key stakeholders of Indian football over last year.
"It is believed the AFC has submitted the report to the AIFF. For over a few months now, it has not been shared with us even though some current I-League clubs were interviewed by the committee," the letter said.
The clubs said they are against the "forceful" relegation to the second tier and interference of the FSDL in Indian football.