BY RAHUL BALI Follow @rahulatma on twitter
Praful Patel, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) president's plans to rope in new corporate entities into the I-League turned a massive downer after Mumbai Tigers, one of the two teams to have been introduced in the country’s top division, chose to back out just three weeks before the league kicks-off.
The club is said to have decided to ply their trade in the I-League second division as they weren’t prepared for the premier league in the country. This raises the question as to what was the standard of verification done by the Bid Evaluation and the Emergency Committees of the AIFF.
While many deem Mumbai Tigers’ decision as unfortunate, Patel has been put in an embarrassing situation after he criticized the existing clubs and asked them to emulate the new entities in the I-League who were to come with 'a good focus and committment to the game.'
“Patel gave us a big lecture on how the new entities will set an example for us. The club has run out of the I-League at the eleventh hour after the fixtures are decided,” stated Valanka Alemao, CEO of Churchill Brothers SC.
With the AIFF deciding to disband Pailan Arrows on the day when the league’s fixtures were to be decided, the future of the club’s players has been a subject of debate. The Indian FA is ready to release their players to the clubs provided they are returned in time for their commercial and marketing partners, IMG-Reliance’s tournament.
“We won’t release the Arrows players if we do take them. If we do release them, how do we justify that to our other players who have remained loyal to us? I was really pleased with East Bengal’s stand when they said that: ‘We will look foolish if we take those players and why are we even discussing it?’ The FA is not sure of the premier league in the country and on what basis are they going ahead with the new league,” questioned Valanka.
Ashu Jindal, IMG-Reliance’s CEO, sent a letter to the clubs inviting them to bid for a franchisee in the new tournament which will be launched next year. Additionally, he also expressed that they are keen to rope in players from the I-League teams for their initiative. This was after there were reports of IMG-Reliance wanting to add a mere four players on their Indian players’ roster.
“Until you have quality players, how can you have a tournament? You need local known heroes. People are trying to break the clubs’ unity. But it won’t happen. The stand the clubs have taken on the Pailan Arrows’ players’ issue is a testament of our unity.”
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