I-League clubs feel the ban on Mohun Bagan was harsh

It is a red letter day in the history of Indian football as the fate of one of the country's most popular clubs hangs in the balance...
The decisions that would be made today at the All India Football Federation (AIFF) Executive Committee meeting will no doubt shape the future of the game in the country. Mohun Bagan are leaving no stone unturned as they look for a reduction on the ban imposed on them for flouting I-League rules during the ill-tempered Kolkata Derby on December 9, 2012.

The clubs felt that the Mariners was being made a scapegoat and should not be banned. There were opinions that banning Mohun Bagan, the oldest and one of the most popular football clubs in India, would be a body blow to the popularity of a game which is nearing extinction in the country. To counter this, some critics felt that the federation was being biased towards the Mariners.

When the I-League Professional Football Clubs Association (IPFCA) circulated a draft letter asking the AIFF to reconsider the two-year ban on Mohun Bagan, there was mixed response from the I-League clubs.

The move, which was initiated by IPFCA secretary Chirag Tanna, was backed immediately by every club except East Bengal.

Will we see them in the I-League next season?

"It's not just a simple straightforward yes or no. We all agree that the ban on Mohun Bagan is harsh but there are other issues that need attention as well," said Sporting Clube de Goa CEO Victor Fernandes to The Times of India.

The Goans after some reluctance, offered their approval to the notion of keeping Bagan in the I-League but also pressed for a single-team relegation system, similar to that followed in 2005-06 season when Fransa-Pax pulled out of the I-League. Salgaocar FC were the only club to be relegated that year.

Another senior Goan club official, who did not wish to be named, said they sympathized with Mohun Bagan and their legion of fans. "But Bagan deserved a jolt like this. They have been arrogant all along. They took (coach) Karim Bencherifa from Salgaocar midway into the season and they still expect all clubs to back them. Just because you have the money to lure someone, you cannot flaunt it in such a manner. That was unethical," the official opined.

Dempo SC chairman Shrinivas Dempo felt that the ban was too harsh on the Mariners and has suggested a lighter ban coupled with a heavy monetary fine instead.

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