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I-League to approach court if ISL is made top league, AIFF calls it premature and unfair

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The I-League clubs are said that they will approach “appropriate courts for relief” if the ISL is made the country’s top league, even as the All India Football Federation called it “premature and unfair”.

The clubs, including East Bengal, Mohun Bagan, Churchill Brothers, Minerva Punjab, and Gokulam Kerala, met at a plush hotel here, to decide on the next course of action. They issued a joint statement:

We, the United I-League clubs met today in New Delhi to discuss our future course of action in light of the latest developments in Indian football. With media report indicating that the ISL being announced as the top division league post an Executive Committee meeting scheduled for 3rd July 2019, the I-League clubs are standing united stronger than ever.

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 the 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.

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 torchbearer of Indian football. I-League has been the sole driving force in creating footballers and fans of the game in the country.

To be now told that the I-League will no longer be the top League is completely unacceptable and illegal and we pledge to fight this together as one football family which carries the tradition of Indian football.”

These clubs and the AIFF have already been part of a standoff during the 2019 Super Cup. The united front of I-League clubs refused to participate in the cup competition unless they were granted an audience with the AIFF President Praful Patel to discuss the future of Indian football.

The clubs also approached the AIFFs Appeals Committee to discuss the fines imposed on them for pulling out of the Super Cup earlier this year. The Committee will decide on the fine in the next four weeks.

The clubs feel Das’ acknowledgement will be rubber-stamped in the AIFF’s executive committee meeting on July 3.

“With media reports indicating that the ISL being announced as the top division league post an Executive committee meeting scheduled for July 3rd, the I-League clubs are standing united stronger than ever,” the clubs said in a joint statement.

“The refusal of the President of AIFF to meet the I-League clubs in spite of several requests and the 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 apex body promptly responded with a statement of its own while urging the aggrieved clubs to come back to the drawing board.

The AIFF and its commercial partner, FSDL, had slapped a fine of Rs 27.5 lakh on each of the six clubs for their gross misconduct and in disciplinary acts.

Initially, they had levied a fine of Rs 10 lakh each on Aizawl FC, Churchill Brothers, Neroca FC, Gokulam Kerala, Minerva Punjab and Rs 5 lakh on East Bengal. Mohun Bagan, who did not register for the competition, were penalised by the AIFF for the act but the decision is yet to come.

We were asked to appeal again for the Rs 27.5 lakh fine slapped on us. Earlier, we had appealed against the Rs 10 lakh fine and now we have to appeal again. They will then compare the two appeals and make the decision, a source close to the development told.

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