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I-League clubs issue joint statement, threaten to move court against AIFF

ANI | Updated: Jun 24, 2019 22:34 IST

Leeds [UK], Jun 24 (ANI): Seven I-League clubs on Monday issued a joint statement, threatening to move court against the All India Football Federation (AIFF) if they announce Indian Super League (ISL) as the top tier of Indian domestic club football system.

The seven clubs include East Bengal, Mohun Bagan, Churchill Brothers, Minerva Punjab, Aizawl FC, NEROCA and Gokulam Kerala, Goal.com reported.

There have been wide media speculations that the executive committee of AIFF will meet in July to declare the ISL as India's top league.

"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 July 3 2019, the I-League clubs are standing united stronger than ever," the joint statement of the seven clubs said.

"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 statement added.

However, AIFF also issued a statement regarding this matter and they said it is very premature on the part of seven clubs to pre-judge any action of the footballing authority.

"The AIFF reacting to the joint statement of 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," AIFF said in an official statement.

"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.

These clubs were involved in a standoff with AIFF earlier this year during the Super Cup. The clubs of I-League refused to participate in the tournament unless the AIFF President Praful Patel decided to meet with them.

"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," joint statement of seven clubs said.

But AIFF said that the President Praful Patel agreed to meet with the seven I-League clubs, but it was the clubs who decided to opt out of the Super Cup, resulting in huge losses for AIFF.

"Despite the assurance, the clubs did not meet the President, and rather prematurely pulled out of the 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 Super Cup no appointment has been sought by the clubs till date," AIFF said in an official statement.

"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," the statement added.

But the seven clubs still allege that the request was not accepted by AIFF and they went on to impose a fine on these clubs.

"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," the statement added.

"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," seven clubs concluded in their statement. (ANI)

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