AIFF ponders handing over corporate teams direct entry into I-League

With the ban on Mohun Bagan and the uncertain futures of Air India and ONGC FC, the Indian FA is considering allowing corporate teams direct entry into the I-League.
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) are in for a busy January as India's chief footballing body will have a host of issues to deal with. Firstly the Indian FA will have to decide on the future of Mohun Bagan after the Mariners had appealed the ban that was imposed on the club after their breach of I-League rules during the Kolkata Derby.

The second problem is that of the vacant slots that will be left if Air India and ONGC FC, clubs which are run by public sector institutions in India, are ousted from the I-League given that they have failed to register themselves as a private entity.

"We had sent a letter to Air India and ONGC asking them to fulfill criteria by December 31, 2012. We received letter from Air India on the same day stating that their process to register themselves as a private legal entity is still on and they need an extension of the timeline to conform to the same," said I-League CEO Sunando Dhar to

"ONGC also sent a letter requesting for an extension to the deadline. However it seems unlikely that there will be an extension this time. The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) had given a deadline by the end of 2011. However it was on request of AIFF President Praful Patel, the AFC extended the deadline till December 31, 2012. If we continue to give such extensions we will keep losing points to our league which in turn affects our position when it comes to getting the crucial AFC Champions League spots," explained Dhar.

When asked about how teams in the relegation zone would be handled, Dhar said that that Praful Patel is considering allowing teams owned by corporate institutions a direct entry into the league. According to Dhar, the teams in the relegation zone, provided Air India and ONGC are above it, will be replaced by teams from the Second Division.

"The President is considering to introduce franchisees into the I-League. We are yet to determine the relegation system given that we have already handed a ban to Mohun Bagan. There is a proposal to increase the number of teams in the I-League to 16. What is sure is that next year it will be a 14-team competition," revealed the I-League CEO.

Praful Patel ponders over allowing teams direct entry into the I-League

The teams that will be granted the direct-entry will be based outside the two football hubs in the country namely - Kolkata and Goa who together account for 8 teams in the ongoing I-League season.

Dodsal FC, a team based out of Mumbai, which is owned by the wealthy conglomerate Dodsal Group headquartered in Dubai, are a club who are portraying major ambitions. They had made some promising signings in the transfer market and might even top it by landing former Manchester United and Arsenal defender Mikael Silvestre.

The other teams who are in contention are from Bangalore, Pune and Delhi.

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