Mohun Bagan likely to get reduction on ban - report

The AIFF Executive Committee is set to met today to thrash out a decision on the Kolkata club after they had appealed the two-season ban meted out to them....
If there was a day for prayer, then this is it for Mohun Bagan. The Mariners' fate in the I-League will be decided today as the All India Football Federation (AIFF)'s Executive Committee will be convening later today. The Kolkata club had drafted an appeal alongwith an emotional letter from injured Bagan midfielder Syed Rahim Nabi requesting the federation to reconsider the ban imposed on the club after they were found guilty of infractions during the Kolkata Derby on December 9, 2012.

India's oldest football club will be presenting their case before the committee later today after they had refused to play the second half of the Derby owing to alleged compromise in security at the Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata after Nabi had been hit by a missile from the crowd.

Mohun Bagan fans have been holding rallies all over the City of Joy and resorting to signature campaigns requesting the AIFF to allow the club to remain in the I-League. Mohun Bagan officials and legends who donned the famous Green and Maroon jersey are currently in New Delhi lobbying hard for the club.

Syed Rahim Nabi wrote an emotional letter as part of Bagan's appeal to the AIFF

But the Kolkata club's fans may be in for a mixture of good and bad news. AIFF sources of The Telegraph revealed that the ban on the Mariners' may be reduced but they may have to start from scratch by playing in the I-League's second division next season.

"Tuesday’s meeting might see Mohun Bagan’s ban reduced till the end of this season, instead of two years," said the source. "But in all probability, they have to start afresh from second division next season as one of the relegated teams. Bringing them back into the premier division would be against the rules."

There is every possibility that the AIFF would simply reduce the ban till the end of this season and would deliberately keep all decisions on the next season on hold. "This will give us the required time to have a look at all existing rules and regulations under the present context," said another official to The Telegraph.

Meanwhile Mohun Bagan legend Subrata Bhattacharya, who is campaigning for a reduction on the ban was scathing in his remarks against the club's officials who he felt had brought disrepute to the Mariners. "It was completely improper on the part of the management to pull out of the match. There is no condoning their mistake. But Mohun Bagan is not just about four officials. It is an institution and it's sad that Bagan has to pay so heavily for their mistake," said Bhattacharya to The Times of India.

"If there is any rule within AIFF's capacity to ban these four officials who took that fateful decision, I would request the president (Praful Patel) to refer to it and ban them so that they can never be part of any football organization in future," the Bagan icon added.

"A three-year ban (including the current season) is strong and there is no doubt about that, but the Executive Committee has been given the power to consider everything. The rules may be changed," hinted AIFF Secretary Kushal Das.

"On one hand, we will have new clubs entering the fray and, on the other, Mohun Bagan will be kept for four years. The discontent is understandable," Das told reporters on Monday. "From a different perspective, if the ban is reduced, Bagan officials, who are responsible for the entire mess, will claim victory and create more trouble in the future," the AIFF official added.

Bagan's arch-rivals East Bengal are keeping a close watch on the proceedings. "We would like the law to take its course. They (Bagan) wanted us to be banned saying we failed to organise the match properly. How can we support their plea?" asked Debabrata Sarkar an Executive Committee member at the club.

Mohun Bagan fans will hope that the AIFF are convinced by their pleas and keep their beloved club in the I-League.

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