Owners of seven I-League clubs met in New Delhi on Monday ahead of All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) crucial executive committee meeting on July 3.
The national federation is expected to make a call on the country’s footballing structure and decide on the future of the franchisee-based Indian Super League and the I-League, which till now is considered the top division.
RELATED| AIFF calls I-League clubs' decision as "premature and unnecessary"
“With media reports indicating that the ISL being announced as the top division league post an executive committee meeting scheduled for 3rd July, the I-League clubs are standing united,” a statement from the clubs read. “Quess East Bengal, Mohun Bagan, Churchill Brothers, Minerva Punjab, Aizawl FC, NEROCA and Gokulam Kerala FC have all decided to approach the Appropriate Courts for relief at the earliest as soon as any such decision announced by AIFF.”
"The refusal of the President of AIFF to meet the I-league clubs in spite of several requests and subsequent vindictive actions specifically towards the I League clubs, combined with the coercive and blackmailing attitude of FSDL towards AIFF by refusing to make payments pushes the game to an uncertain future," the letter also stated. "I League has been the national league since 1996 and carries the tradition of Indian Football with it. This tradition has helped create what football in India stands today and has been the torch bearer of Indian Football. I League has been the sole driving force in creating footballers and fans of the game in the country.”
The AIFF had earlier slapped a fine of Rs. 27.5 lakh on six clubs that boycotted the Super Cup . Seven clubs had skipped the Super Cup in protest.
- Premature decision, says AIFF -
Reacting to the I-League club's stance, the AIFF released a statement saying: "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.
RELATED| AIFF to meet on July 3 to decide ISL, I-League future
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 decisions of the AIFF would be unfair."
The statement added that the AIFF had asked Asian Football Confederation's (AFC) General Secretary Dato Windsor John to come to India to address the issues surrounding the I-League. "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 Dato Windsor John to visit India specifically for Hero I-League issues.
Furthermore, while the decision of the AIFF Executive Committee cannot be pre-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."
The statement further added that despite being assured a meeting, the clubs did not meet the AIFF president. "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 between 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."
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